The University of Everyday Life

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Booze Scale in Layman’s terms from the University of Everyday Life:

Am I an alcoholic? This is the secret question that folks like me have asked themselves or googled the question and took an online quiz. Deep down of course they know they have a drink problem, or drink is causing problems in their life or why the hell would you look! Put another way, which you may have heard before, if you are questioning yourself about alcohol intake then chances are that you have overstepped a line somewhere. But let this not dishearten us my friends, because I believe that there is a potential alcoholic in everyone given the right circumstances or trigger of events, which means we are not in the minority!

Alcoholism used to be defined simply as “Alcohol Abuse” or Alcohol Dependence” so you either fell into an unknown safe category pre-abuse, you abused, or you depended, Easy? Not really!

To quote Drink Aware: To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines advise it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis and if you do, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days.

The definition used by the Office of National Statistics for binge drinking, is having over 8 units in a single session for men and over 6 units for women. Now, look at the following illustration:

What does this mean to the everyday bloke or lady – In a nutshell, this means half of the population (certainly my generation) are pickling themselves to death and as a society we probably have a binge drinking epidemic on our hands!

To put it in perspective, 14 Units is 6 Pints of 4% Lager which by my old standard is nack all!

Clearly it is difficult to define with these standards and simply abuse or dependence is no longer valid, so here is my adaptation based on my own reality and practical research of this subject over many years. For the record, I would put my old self as getting to Level 7 Cat. 3.

1. Teetotaller

Whilst it would be nice to be a Now and Againer (below), the Teetotaller is the ultimate realistic aim of any “real” alcoholic. Yes, these are the reformed alcoholics, people who can’t drink, health freaks (figure of speech) and people who simply don’t like the taste or the feeling that alcohol offers. My hat is off to the latter for not following society into “alcohol for everything”.

2. Toaster

The Toaster is in good company with the Teetotaller, however, whilst the hardcore Teetotaller declines a sip of sherry at a wedding with a “what part of I don’t drink is mis-leading”, The Toaster will give in for the cause.

3. Mealer

This is a good place to be. The Mealer compliments their food with say, a glass of wine or a beer to suit the occasion and it is all about the balance. A connoisseur at heart, the Mealer understands their limitations and generally will not venture beyond.

4. Now and Againer

The Now and Againer is up for the special occasions but is somewhat on the fence when it comes to the love of alcohol. They are sometimes the one at the works party that gets smashed because they don’t normally drink, but they can also be quite responsible and realise when it’s time to stop. There is a but! There is a risk of creeping up a level when the now and again is usually a binge!

5. Weekender

Usually the younger starters and these days the weekend starts on a Thursday, which if continued all weekend is into binge territory. Most people have surely drifted in and out of this stage either in their youth or during a mid-life crisis for example. Weekenders are often influenced by peers and as most people work during the week, the weekender has a few days off, and what does society tell us? We need alcohol for social occasions!

6. Wind Down and Weekender

As you get older (who said wiser) or more tolerant you will still have the weekend party or outing but during the week after a shitty day at work and you’ve got the kids in bed, a wind down alcoholic drink is well earnt. Whilst this may settle the WDAW, they need to be extra cautious of the amount of alcohol taken because it can creep up on you where the Binge awaits and so does the slippery slope.

7. Binge Drinker Category 1, 2 and 3

Ah the binger! By far the biggest and most complex category that spreads across the remaining and can even affect the Level 4 Now and Againer. Such a complicated category needs to be broken down so here goes:

Cat. 1: Can be from Level 4 when the now and again is usually a binge session and the hangover lingers.

Cat. 2: Every time they drink it’s a binge. The “what’s the point in going out for a drink if we’re not going to get steaming drunk and paint the town” kind of guys. This middle Binger will always take alcohol to an event unless they clearly cannot drink (driving or on medication), in which case they will usually sit there with a face like a slapped backside and say nothing all night because they’re not drinking and everyone else is…… May as well not bother! Then they will always “bank” the next binge opportunity and whether they realise or not, are probably dependant and think about alcohol a bit too regularly. There are likely relationship problems brewing (pardon the pun) and the odd occasion missed due to hangover, and blackouts are a regular occurrence.

Cat. 3: This is hardcore and will continue to the end if not reigned in on time. The high-end binger, once started, will struggle to stop. The on/off switch has been the demise of many a person on the drink problem scale, and whilst the middle category binger will have a break in between, the high-end Cat. 3 Binger can carry on for days. They wake up in a hotel room still wasted from the night before and have a big slug of the left-over wine and off they go again. As you can imagine these types of Binger’s are risking, health, job and love and heading for disaster and they are very likely to be close to or have already lost one, or all three. This category is the Rock Bottom of many people and the point they have the notion to fight back and resurrect their lives positively. If not, they carry over into the following as the slope downwards spirals.

8. Day Tripper

Somewhat confusing and hard to pinpoint is the Day Tripper who drinks every day, and it matters not what time of day it is. Whilst the Day Tripper has obviously had their share of big binges, life now is basically one huge binge. The tolerance levels are high, and dependence has its grip, hence the morning take of alcohol. Bizarrely, Day Trippers are often lucky enough not to have done themselves over too much in their early drinking careers that they can still just about hold down a job and maybe other small responsibilities. The Day Tripper, however, probably has a list of relationship problems and likely lives alone. The functioning alcoholic falls into this category and their day cannot be imagined without regular tipple.

9. Out Of Controller

Unfortunately, this poor blighter could have lost their job, their marriage and basically their own self-respect. Probably one step away or already struggling to keep the roof over their heads and the alcohol has gripped them so bad that so long as they can get a drink, they really don’t care! What is sad is that most of society who do not understand the illness that is alcoholism probably think of this person as the alcoholic, you know; scruffy looking, lonely, stinks of stale booze, wanders around lost and is in fact a bum, down and out or loser! What is not understood is the emotional torment inside that has led them to this state and the emotional torment now when the demon demands that they pour yet more poison into their bodies when they don’t want to. For some, they really have had it all and thrown it away and for others it could be circumstance. If they are lucky, they may have someone who still wants to help, but they absolutely must want to stop or else it will be game over.

This is last chance saloon (pardon the pun again) for the out of controller and surely is the lowest of Rock Bottom before the inevitable.

10. Reapers Depender

Sadly, this is game over! Your body has clearly packed up and you are not motivated to go on whatsoever, regardless whether you are aware of it or not. There have been times where perhaps you could have turned a corner to recovery but all you can do now is wait for your fate. A hospital bed, a ditch, a park, who knows but the corner that once offered a different direction has long gone…….

The End!

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