Is your partner’s holiday drinking a sign of a bigger problem?

Published by ronmaxyusim on

Many people overindulge during the holidays.  Drinking and partying with friends and family go hand in hand with the fiesta. Sure, there’s always a few people who go overboard.  After a few too many some become loud, mean and embarrassing drunks.  That’s fine, unless, it’s YOUR partner.


So when is heavy drinking actually a sign of alcoholism?

It can be confusing since many normal drinkers overdo it during the holidays.  This indulgence can occur for a variety of different reasons; family stress, personal sadness or even disappointments.  People tend to drink more when they are grieving the loss of loved ones, feeling stress about their relationship, or just disappointed in their careers.

The key question is; “Is this just “letting loose” or does your partner have a drinking problem?”  How can you tell?—after all there is no blood test for alcoholism. But let’s face it, “binge drinking” isn’t really binge drinking when it happens nightly or results in huge consequences such as; missing family commitments, accidents or even DUI’s.

Today I’ll show you how to assess the difference between heavy drinking and alcoholism.

The four correlates that determine alcoholism or addiction.

The best method to determine alcoholism is to break down and examine the strong correlations between alcohol and four key areas of life. Here’s how it works. Take a look at the list below:


Careers (or schooling).


Health (both physical and mental). 

If you take an honest look at these four categories and whether there is deterioration in one or more of these key life areas, then you will know if your partner is an alcoholic.

So here’s the trick–The only way we really know is by looking at the consequences that accompany drinking. To say it another way, being an alcoholic doesn’t have to do with the number of beers one drinks but instead with the gravity of the consequences that occur when one is drinking.

When clients from my private practice request an Alcoholism Assessment, I put them through this simple exercise. We examine these Four Key Areas and determine if there is a strong correlation between any of them and their negative behaviors or consequences.


1-Relationships: Is there a direct correlation between your partner’s drinking and deterioration in his/her relationships with you, family, children, friends, neighbors and co-workers?

2-Careers: Is there a correlation between your partner’s drinking and not living up to his/her potential at work (or school)? More specifically, have they been losing jobs, not getting promotions or are they constantly being fired? Are their school grades not close to what they should be?

3-Health: Are they often depressed or angry? Do they have panic attacks? Do they have lots of physical injuries (falling down/broken arms) or are they often sick? Lots of flu or colds?

4-Money: Do they spend WAY more on alcohol (or drugs) than they intend to or have in their budget?


And here is the scoring system: If there is a strong correlation between alcohol and one of these areas, they might have a problem. If they score a correlation in two areas they probably are an alcoholic.


If they have 3 or 4 correlations; they will probably (or will soon be) in crisis. There really is no such thing as a “functional alcoholic”. If they are functioning “poorly” then they CAN’T handle alcohol–period.

Well there you have it; a quick alcohol assessment.  If you think your partner is an alcoholic (or addict) I can help.  To set up a couple’s therapy meeting contact me and we’ll solve this problem together.

Have a happy and safe holiday.

-Max Yusim, LCSW




Categories: Alcoholism


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