Who is Considered a Heavy Drinker?
What is considered a heavy drinker?
‘Someone who drinks more than his or her doctor’ is the old joke and there is truth in this. Doctors are just as prone to alcoholism as anyone else. Doctors who have a high alcohol consumption will tend to see that as normal even if they have abnormal liver function tests.
However, doctors in general would be unwise to use the term ‘heavy drinker’. It tends to be used by alcoholics and their families in order to avoid facing up to reality. Curiously, being a ‘heavy drinker’ (stupid) is seen as being less shameful than ‘alcoholic’ (ill).
There is no level of drinking that accurately defines heavy drinkers. The clinical dividing line between ‘normal’ and ‘heavy’ is one of damage. But surely if someone is being damaged by the use of alcohol, the sensible thing to do is to stop. The term ‘heavy drinker’, trying to differentiate that from ‘alcoholic’ is a camouflage, a dangerous one.
In some occupations – publicans, the armed forces, people who have expense accounts – a high alcohol consumption is the norm. That is dangerous in itself because ‘normal’ may be ‘too high’ and therefore damaging.