At Casper & Casper, our team includes attorneys with extensive experience defending clients against OVI (DUI) charges. As a result, we’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on individuals and communities. Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, we’ve collected some helpful advice on beginning to deal with a drinking problem—or helping someone you love who may be facing alcohol addiction.
How can you tell if you’re drinking too much?
In general, if you’re a man who regularly consumes more than four alcoholic drinks in one day or a woman who consumes more than three drinks in a day—or someone who drinks frequently but in lower amounts (14 per week for men, 7 for women), it could be time to take a closer look at your drinking.
Ask yourself if you’ve ever ended up drinking more than you intended, had a hard time cutting down on your drinking, or gotten into situations where your drinking increased your chance of getting hurt (driving, swimming, walking in dangerous areas, having unsafe sex).
Have you given up or cut back on other activities in order to drink, or found that your tolerance for alcohol had increased and you needed to drink more in order to get the same effect?
If any of these warning signs apply to you, the first thing you should do is take steps to stay safe. Make sure you have a designated driver, or take a taxi or an Uber, when you go out. Avoid using machinery, swimming, or any other activities that require you to keep your head.
Second, practice pacing yourself. It takes about two hours for an adult’s body to completely break down a single alcoholic drink, so choose to have no more than one alcoholic drink per hour, followed by a non-alcoholic one.
Third, pay attention to how much you’re drinking. Marking drinks on a calendar can be a great way to get a general idea of the quantity and frequency of your alcohol consumption. Notice how you feel afterwards, and whether there are negative repercussions to your drinking—socially, physically, in your career, etc.—that you may have been ignoring.
If you decide it’s time to quit, there are many great resources online and in your community. Here are a few:
• Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
• National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
What can you do if you suspect someone you love is drinking too much?
It can feel overwhelming when a loved one seems to be in the grip of alcohol addiction. You can’t control their actions, and you may not even be sure how to bring up your concern with them.
It may be useful to think of alcohol addiction as a disease rather than a failure of willpower. A combination of genetics, psychological and social factors determine why one person can drink to excess at times but never develop a dependence, while someone else descends into a downward spiral.
If you choose to confront someone about his or her alcohol use, it pays to go in with a game plan. Approach the person with an attitude of compassion, not accusation, and never begin this conversation when you suspect your loved one has been drinking.
Talk about the specific effects their drinking has had—on you, on their job, on their health. Offer your help and support, including, if you’re willing, attending a meeting or support group with them.
But whatever you do, don’t take on the responsibility for another person’s recovery. You’re not responsible for their alcohol abuse, and you can’t force them to change. In addition to the resources mentioned above, Al-Anon can help you navigate complicated feelings around loving someone who drinks too much.
By Daniel R. Allnutt
At Casper & Casper, Daniel focuses his practice on representing Workers’ Compensation claimants and OVI defendants.
Daniel joined Casper & Casper as an Associate after having a general practice for the previous five years. Prior to this, he was employed by the City of Middletown as their Assistant Prosecutor. He is a 2009 graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law, and 2002 graduate of Miami University with a B.S. in Business Marketing.
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Source 1, Source 2 and Source 3
Rethinking Drinking: Source 1, Source 2 and Source 3
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence