“My problem is not that serious!” The reality of alcohol related disorders

I have had various patients come to my practice wondering about their alcohol intake, how far from “normal” it is, and how close to “alcoholism” has it become. They fear the idea of becoming an alcoholic, often recognizing the illness by having lived with a family member, and other times simply fearing the idea of losing control. This fear has led to avoidance, and more often than not, a minimization of the effects of alcohol on that person’s life. The questioning itself is evidence of concern, and though most times patients provide the many reasons why their “problem is not that serious!”, there is often a sense of vagueness left in the room, a feeling of unfinished business, allowing for further exploration of the motivation for remaining the same or eliciting change.