A. Man, I hate tossin’ around “expertise” stuff, but here you go: When I left my home state of California in 1977, I worked with troubled teens for about six years. I then became the Director of Substance Services for the local mental health agency back in 1982. We (I) served a seven county area. This was at the very beginning of the invent of crack cocaine, and bathtub methamphetamine. Prescription issues were Dilaudid (the Rx equivalent of heroin) and the very popular powerful diet pill, Preludin. Although I was pretty well versed in many street drugs, this was on-the-job training at its finest hour. I left my great position with the agency in 1987, and have been blessed with my wonderful private practice for thirty years. So, along with my licenses and certifications, which in my slightly bad-attitude opinion don’t really mean that much, I have been the big-boy expert guy for about thirty-five years.
B. Yummy ol’ alcohol. I started this part of my career as a bartender prior to my therapist life. Perhaps it was part of my therapist training... You know, a vast majority of alcohol consumers do not have issues with America’s favorite drug. That being said, your question is extremely relevant. One of the consistent effects of alcohol is some degree of judgment impairment. So, if our judgment is at least mildly impaired, sometimes we should rely on someone else’s opinion as to whether or not we have had too much to drink. Thus, when you say “I will begrudgingly stop”, I hope that doesn’t mean you are throwing a wall-eyed double-dog shit fit when you put the drinking brakes on; other people’s judgment may be better than our own. I think that we should know what is an acceptable amount of alcohol to consume in terms of amount. So if you and your wife split a good bottle of red wine, and then later you have a brewski, this may be your acceptable limit. If we rely on how we feel, we’re screwed. I have had many people who were way over the legal limit bitterly complain that they weren’t drunk. Impaired judgment? High tolerance? We should figure out what the limit should be and stay within those boundaries. Additionally, if you need guidance about how much you can drink to stay within the legal limits, call me. You can also find the drinking/driving charts online.
The global question regarding too much drinking in general is a surprisingly easy standard: if the drug is creating problems in your life, the drug is a problem. “Problems” can be financial, legal, work performance, social skills, etc. However, the most common evidence is the decline of our relationship of the person we love. Increased alcohol consumption can result in minor disagreements turning into huge arguments. Wasn’t alcohol fuel for a relaxed, enjoyable time? If it has mutated into tense, unpleasant experiences, it may be evidence of a problem. This is not flavored water, but rather a drug. Treat it accordingly.