The Thin Line: What is Normal Partying and What is Addiction?

College is a time for partying right? You’ve finally turned 21, and it’s time to have some drinks legally! It’s a time to go to frat parties and play drinking games. It’s a time to play beer pong. It’s a time to have shots with that cute bartender. It’s a time for cocktails at happy hour. Right? But when have you crossed the line into a full-blown alcoholic?

It’s hard to say. This is a different line for everyone. Some people drink three or four times a week in their early 20s and then give it up altogether by the time they are 25. Some people only have one or two drinks a week, but it quickly develops into a lifelong habit, and they start drinking more and more.

It’s hard to say what a drinking problem really is. But I think it’s an individual thing. If alcohol is starting to be a destructive force in your life, if you have ever lost a job or a relationship due to drinking, if you frequently drink before 5:00 PM, or if you can’t go a week without drinking, you may have a problem.

So what do you do if you have a problem? Well, there are a lot of helpful organizations and groups out there that will help you if you think you are an alcoholic. If you can’t imagine your life without alcohol–if you feel very attached to drinking–you may be an alcoholic.

A certain amount of drinking and partying is normal as a young adult. I think it’s perfectly okay to enjoy drinking in moderation if you can be smart about it. Don’t drive drunk. Don’t drink until you puke. Don’t mix every kind of liquor under the sun.

But for some people, as soon as they start drinking, they don’t know how to stop. An allergy of the mind has taken hold. For these people, life may be better without drinking at all.

Only you can determine whether or not you fit into this category. But I invite you to take a look at your life and ask yourself if you are just having fun–and capable of having fun without alcohol–or if you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and you need help.

Alcoholics Anonymous
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration
Smart Recovery

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