“Am I An Alcoholic”? Why You Need Stop Asking This Question

Are you an alcoholic, and someone who is trying to stop drinking? You must have googled this question at least once “Am I an alcoholic?” This article is going to talk about why asking yourself that question might be doing more harm than good.

Key Points

  • Almost all drinkers focus on the question, “Am I an Alcoholic?” because, in our society, we are conditioned to believe there is an arbitrary line between normal drinkers and problematic drinkers.
  • The question “Am I an Alcoholic” carries a crushing weight, which hinders a drinker’s ability to reflect on their drinking with full honesty.
  • Once we stop fixating on the question, “Am I an Alcoholic?” we can shift our focus to the more important question, “Will my life be better without alcohol?”

Do you know what is the one question almost all people ask before they quit drinking?

“Am I an alcoholic?” is a question many drinkers are too familiar with. As a therapist and an ex-drinker, I have dealt with the question intimately both on a personal and professional level.

As an ex-drinker, only I know how many hours I spent in front of my computer screen, obsessively clicking on link after link, searching for answers that I didn’t want to know.

As a therapist, almost all the individuals I worked with bring up this very question in one way or another, some wish that I would let them off the invisible hook, and others are determined to “prove” to me that they “don’t have a problem.”

As Catherine Gray, the author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, brilliantly pointed out, “The most common thing to do in the year before quitting booze is to hunch over a laptop and miserably type Am I an alcoholic? Into Google at 1 am.”

Related: Does Drinking Really Help You Relax?

Why Do We Fixate On “Am I an Alcoholic?”

Of course, drinkers ask this question for a good reason. Our society is conditioned to separate drinkers into two categories – the “responsible drinkers” vs. the “alcoholics,” or put in a more professionally accepted way, normal drinkers vs. problematic drinkers.

We chose to believe if one falls into the normal drinker category, they are somehow immune to this horrible disease called “alcoholism.” Consuming alcohol on a regular basis is not just acceptable, but also encouraged.

On the other hand, if one falls into the problematic drinker category, all of sudden they become another species that, for whatever reason, can not behave safely around alcohol the way everyone else seems to be able to.

Even professionals sometimes get caught up in the question of whether someone has an alcohol use disorder.” We often conveniently forget the fact that all problem drinkers, at some point, have been normal drinkers.

None of us were born with an alcohol dependency. Yet, we continue to collectively fixate on a question that aims to single out the “problem drinkers” so the rest of the “normal drinkers” can continue to drink “responsibly.”

Asking yourself the question, am I an alcoholic?

What’s the Cost of Asking “Am I an Alcoholic?”

One major cost of asking the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” is that the answer “yes” comes with such a high price. The seemingly simple question carries a crushing weight. The label “alcoholic” is extremely alienating.

Not only does it carry an unspeakable amount of shame and stigma, but it is also seen by many as an incurable disease. Answering “yes” to the question is almost like taking on a life sentence that would pronounce one as the “others” who can never again live a life that the rest of the world gets to live.

No wonder drinkers often tend to deny their drinking issue or become highly defensive when challenged. If you ask me, it’s quite an adaptive response to be reluctant to take on such an alienating label.

The unspeakable weight of the question hinders the drinkers’ ability to reflect on their relationships with alcohol with full honesty.

Related: 20 Things People Realize When They Quit Drinking Alcohol

What Would Happen If We Stop Asking “Am I an Alcoholic?”

As an ex-drinker and a therapist who helps other drinkers break their alcohol use patterns, I believe there lies little real value in the question, “Does someone has a substance use disorder?” The answer draws only an arbitrary line among drinkers on a spectrum.

A “normal drinker” today is not immune to becoming a “problem drinker” tomorrow. The only thing such a question accomplishes is to alienate one group or drinkers from another and gives some a false sense of security to continue to consume a socially approved addictive substance.

Both professionals and individuals need to start to shift to the only real question that matters – whether your life would be better with less alcohol. This new question removes the weight that the previous question carries.

Related: 3 Powerful Pointers That Will Help In Preventing Substance Abuse

The answer no longer bears the power to define someone and how they would live the rest of their life. One would finally have the permission to answer the question with full honesty, and free from the fear of repercussions from judgment and stigma.

If you are curious about changing your relationship with alcohol, grab my free 30-Day Toolkit and start to cut down on drinking today.

If you are curious about changing your relationship with alcohol, I created this free 30-Day toolkit to help you cut down on drinking.”(Link to the toolkit:

Written By Jeanette Hu
alcohol use disorder

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