Many folks have a misunderstanding when it comes to alcohol and what may be a problem. Truth is, any amount of consumption that interferes with responsibility or creates conflict can be considered problematic.
We differentiate between 5 levels of consumption: Non-drinker; light; moderate; heavy and abusive.
The non-drinker is relatively zero. They may still have a drink on special occasions. Light consumption is between 1 to 6 standard alcoholic beverages weekly, and never more than 3 per occasion. Moderate drinking is about 12 standards beverages or so weekly. Heavy is in the neighborhood of 24 beverages and abusive drinking, which means you can create health problems for yourself, is about 35 beverages weekly. Of course, there is binge drinking, technically defined as five or more beverages per occasion, at least once per month. If you no longer feel the intoxicating effect of alcohol and thus need more to achieve that feeling, you may be demonstrating an increased tolerance to the substance.
As one moves across this scale with consumption, the likelihood of social, behavioural and economic problems increase. For instance, you can be a “happy” drinker consuming 24 beverages weekly. Although your mood may be good, it is difficult to have meaningful conversations to resolve matters and it does become expensive. Being able to stop consumption for periods of time also doesn’t mean the person still doesn’t have a problem.
The challenge in working with someone with an alcohol problem, in the beginning, is their difficulty seeing their own consumption as an issue. These can lead to considerable conflict, especially between separated parents where kids are involved.
Solutions include agreements between the parents to limit consumption in the company of children; resist consuming altogether; agree to random testing to demonstrate sobriety; using an ignition interlock system; and where a person acknowledges a problem, then some form of counselling or treatment.
Between seeing one’s kids or consuming alcohol, the reasonable parent will limit or resist consumption and where necessary, get help. Resistance to these concerns may indicate a defensive person or truly a problem with alcohol where arguing over use is advanced over seeing one’s children, demonstrating alcohol may be a priority.
Your lawyer and/or counsellor can discuss options for moving forward.