An estimated 33 percent of all Americans misuse alcohol, a dangerous statistic that has resulted in 85,000 preventable deaths a year.
The number of alcohol-related deaths has people wondering, “how much do you drink?”
While you may not be one of the millions of alcoholics in the U.S., you could be one of the millions of almost-alcoholics.
Many thinking Alcoholism is black and white, but Dr. Robert Doyle author of “Almost Alcoholic” and Harvard Psychiatrist says it is not so clear cut.
"People were either alcoholics, or they weren't. They had a problem, or they didn't," says Doyle.
Doyle believes that there is a big grey area, “we’re seeing alcohol problems as a spectrum,” he says.
The Alcoholism expert focuses on the zone between normal use and a diagnosis of Alcoholism, the so-called “almost alcoholic range.” Here, the risk of things like insomnia, diabetes, and cancer can increase.
According to Doyle, “You don’t have to be alcoholic to have major problems with alcohol.”
Brenda Wilhelmson is a recovering alcoholic. She says that the “almost” range is really hard to define. She believes she was an almost-alcoholic.
“It turned into a way that I rewarded myself at the end of the day, and it just escalated from there. I was basically drinking myself to sleep every night," she says.
Brenda can pinpoint the exact moment when she crossed the line to full-blown Alcoholism, saying “I could have gone either way that night, and I just went for it.”
Dr. Doyle believes millions who become addicted pass through the almost-alcoholic phase, and he thinks a lot can be done to stop the problem there.
"We're not trying to put labels on people. In fact, we're trying to prevent people from getting the label of a very serious condition."
A way to help determine whether or not you fall into the range is by conducting an honest assessment and asking yourself things like: is alcohol affecting my sleep? Do I depend on alcohol to de-stress? Am I drinking to deal with a medical problem?
If you feel as if you might be heading toward a problem, try cutting back says Doyle.
"If you're having four beers on Friday night, see how you do with two beers." Such small spectrum changes could make a big difference in where you end up on this spectrum.
Dr. Doyle says, "We're just talking about moving into more responsible and healthy drinking."
For more on Dr. Doyle’s book “Almost Alcoholic” go to thealmosteffect.com to take the self-assessment for your drinking habits.