Should there be a word for an 'almost alcoholic'?

Alcoholics are people who fall asleep in skips. Alcoholics get into fights. Alcoholics start the day with a shot of whisky. Alcoholics are drunk all the time. Alcoholics can’t hold down jobs.

Drunk & DisorderlyNone of the above is necessarily true, but the intensely negative nature of the word alcoholic leaves some people scrabbling for an alternative.
“There is so much stigma,” says Kate, author of the blog The Sober Journalist. People are so frightened of it – their head fills with images of men drinking under bridges. “There is this huge number of people out there who don’t fit that stereotype but perhaps their drinking isn’t quite normal.”

People have such vivid mental images of what it means to be an alcoholic that they measure themselves against that standard and do not seek help.

“They all have an idea of what an alcohol or problem drinker is but there is a different pattern for every drinker,” Jarvis says.

Not all experts share this view, however.

There’s a danger that avoiding the term “alcoholism” will only serve “to reassure people their drinking is OK when it isn’t”, says Moira Plant, emeritus professor of alcohol studies at the University of the West of England.

Read the full Jan 2014 BBC article here

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