Am I an alcoholic?
Am I addicted to alcohol? 

 Am I an alcoholic?

This is a question I am asked often. It is also a question full of dread, and connotations of downand-outs on park benches drinking out of paper bags. It’s a question loaded with social stigma, and so of course it makes us feel incredibly uncomfortable and fearful.

The question is very easy to answer.

There is no such thing as an alcoholic.

As a successful, intelligent and capable person you will have challenged ideas and concepts many times before in your life and career. Now I’d like you to take a fresh look at alcohol for a few minutes. Let’s challenge the whole idea of alcoholism for a moment and explore why there is no such thing as an alcoholic.

If there was a disease called alcoholism, have you ever wondered:

  • At what specific point does the normal drinker becomes an alcoholic? and

  • How specifically is this disease, alcoholism, diagnosed?

If you haven’t, then please pause for a moment to consider the questions.

The answer to both questions is that there is no answer. There is no way of knowing exactly when a person goes from being a normal drinker to becoming an alcoholic, and there is no clear diagnosis. It is not something that can be examined medically, and a medical conclusion drawn. You can’t have a scan or a blood test, or any other test to assess whether you have the so-called disease. When I visited my doctor to ask if I was an alcoholic, he said that it was a question that I’d have to answer myself!

Would you believe in a disease with no diagnosis? One that people have been known to be cured from just by changing the way they think, by reading a book, and by listening to people like me. I’m not aware of any disease on the planet that fits any of those criteria.

Let’s consider smoking for a moment. 90% of people in the Western hemisphere used to smoke cigarettes. But there are no smokaholics who suffer a lifelong disease of smokoholism, are there? It is well understood that smokers are addicted to nicotine, and that the problem of smoking is caused by the nicotine addiction. Nicotine is an addictive drug, and repeated use of an addictive drug leads to addiction.

Someone who chain smokes is a smoker, and someone who drinks themselves to despair is a drinker. Can you see how it is all degrees of the same thing?

There is no such thing as an alcoholic.

There is also no such thing as an addictive personality. Alcohol is a highly addictive drug. It is the second most addictive drug on the planet after heroine. There is such social stigma attached to the term alcoholic that it becomes the only focus for concern, and one where people conclude, ‘If I’m not an alcoholic, then I’m OK.’ I hope that you now understand that on a sliding scale there is no point where people become something else and become an alcoholic.

Often people only realise that they have a problem with alcohol when they decide they want to cut down or stop and realise that it’s not as easy as they thought it would be, or that it is impossible.

When you drink alcohol you are taking a highly addictive drug.  

No one takes their first alcoholic drink intending to find themselves drinking every night or binging at the weekends only to wake full of remorse, blank memories, and sickness. Nor do you need to hit rock bottom before you realise that alcohol is a highly addictive drug and consuming it repeatedly will lead to addiction.

Am I addicted to alcohol?

Everyone who drinks alcohol is addicted to alcohol on some level. It is a sliding scale and a slippery slope, and some people are further down the line than others. It can be a slow journey for some, and a more rapid journey for others. You will have experience with friends, colleagues and family that you can relate to. Some people just drink occasionally, and some readily admit to getting home from work and clinking ice into a glass before saying ‘hi’ to their spouse, or to getting ‘smashed’ at weekends.

I have developed the following questions based on my own journey with alcohol, and subsequent extensive research, and studies.

If you score 8 or higher on the system below this indicates an alcohol addiction.  And if you are addicted to alcohol then you have an alcohol problem. This system has been developed by the World Health Organisation (AUDIT assessment).

Questions Scoring system Your score
0 1 2 3 4
How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?NeverMonthly or less2 - 4 times per month2 - 3 times per week4+ times per week
How many units of alcohol do you drink on a typical day when you are drinking?1 -23 - 45 - 67 - 910+
How often have you had 6 or more units if female, or 8 or more if male, on a single occasion in the last year?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of your drinking?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?NeverLess than monthlyMonthlyWeeklyDaily or

almost daily

Have you or somebody else been injured as a result of your drinking?NoYes, but not

in the last year

Yes, during the

last year

Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested that you cut down?NoYes, but not

in the last year

Yes, during the

last year


The problem is not you. The problem is alcohol. The problem is the drink. People get addicted to addictive substances. That is the nature of it. 

You are not weak; you are not pathetic, and you are not a failure. You know that, because you are capable, and strong-minded, and you are successful in other areas of your life.

Willpower is ineffective in dealing with addiction in the long term, it’s like a battery. One day it just runs out! That’s why, if you have tried to stop or cut down by using will-power then you will have found it hard, and your consumption probably went back to the previous levels or increased.

There really is good news here for you. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I stopped drinking alcohol in 2016. And here’s the thing. I have never in that time needed to use willpower, I haven’t suffered any withdrawal effects from not drinking, and I drink as much alcohol as I like, which is absolutely none. I just have no desire for any. And, do you know what? It was all easy.

It is amazing, and it’s not magic. If you are curious about what your life will be like sober, either for a while or permanently, why not give it a try. With the right thinking and the right tools, it really is a joy, and it really it easy, and you can spend the rest of your life being who you are meant to be, fully.

Please think about what I’ve said. Don’t try to give up with willpower, it will just cause compounded misery. It’s like trying to open a door by pushing at the hinges and from the wrong side.

You are a wonderful, capable person who like millions of others like you is in a trap, and you have all the resources and capabilities to change your life as much as you want to. If you would like support - we’re here.

If you would like support, inspiration and guidance to solve an alcohol issue or problem in your life, we can help. Our Services Section gives you details.

Michaela Weaver


Founder: The Alcohol Coach