The Battle To Define Down the Meaning of Abuse

A new study shows that at some time in their lives "30.3 percent of adults have abused alcohol or suffered from alcoholism at some point in their lives."

That’s all? Just 3 in 10 have abused alcohol? I find that hard to believe. But wait, what does "abuse" mean?

According to those who wrote up the study over at the  "National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism", the term "abuse" is defined as "those whose excessive drinking leads to personal and professional problems." Bridget Grant, the lead researcher on the study, also defined abuse thusly:

"The hallmarks of alcohol abuse are interpersonal problems, financial
problems and problems in daily living due to excessive drinking."

There’s nothing I like more than a crisp, clean, obvious, unambiguous definition of a word or phrase. They keep you out of trouble and they make communicating much easier and more efficient.

In my world, a "personal problem" related to "excessive drinking" would be having a harder time getting out of bed after an evening of sampling through one too many new French Rose imported by Kermit Lynch. I would also consider it a "problem in daily living" that I had to choose to stay the night at a friends house because  after sampling more than 15 wines with a seven course meal I just didn’t feel like it was safe to drive home.  These are definitely problems of a personal nature to me.

Despite my somewhat dubious perspective on this survey, I do find this statistic an interesting one:

"alcohol abuse and alcoholism rates were more prevalent at higher
income levels. Of those making less than $20,000 a year, rates of
alcohol disorders were 23.9 percent. For earners of $70,000 and above,
the rate was 41.4 percent."

Does this mean that low income folks simply can’t afford to buy alcohol? Does it mean they that low income affects negatively one’s appreciation of alcohol?

In any case, I’m not concerned with folks like me who sometimes drink enough to find themselves impaired. I’m really not. And to lump folks like me or others, who very occasionally drink enough dry rose at a 4th of July picnic to find themselves impaired enough to ask someone else to drive, into the harshly and judgmentally negative category of "abusers", is really not very useful. 

Now, if we are talking about chronic over indulgence, then we have an issue. Then we have something that if it isn’t treated or reversed you can really have some problems.

Now…where’s that bottle of Rose! Damn it. I can’t find it. I can’t find my glass either.

12 Responses

  1. Terry Hughes - July 4, 2007

    There’s this desire on the part of the medical community to make a problem of everything and then to therapeutize it.
    Excuse me, but there’s nothing wrong with getting shitfaced every once in a while.
    William Blake wrote:
    “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than
    Hangovers included.

  2. Anneliese - July 4, 2007

    Perhaps the low income stats are due to folks who are more concerned with putting food on the table over buying a bottle of feel-good? I guess it depends on who made up the survey pool?
    For me, sometimes I gotta decide between curtailing wine purchases so I may buy a new Nikon lens or continue my wine-buying habits and do without my hobby. When forced with the choice, Nikon wins. =\

  3. Chris Bunting - July 4, 2007

    I would like to invite you to join an online conference of drink bloggers: Drink. Blog. Talk 2007. It will be held between September 22 and 29, 2007 and anybody who blogs about alcoholic drink is invited to take part. I have not been able to find a contact email on your site so, if you are interested, please contact me at japanesewhisky at and I will send you out an invite. If you want to find out more about who I am, I blog at about Japanese whisky. The idea for the conference came out of a discussion between myself, Kevin Erskine (of and Jeffrey Morgenthaler (of on a thread at Kevin’s blog. I hope you will be able to take part.

  4. el jefe - July 5, 2007

    I guess by that definition I have abused beans…

  5. Jerry Murray - July 5, 2007

    el jefe,
    Me too! As well as anchovies, garlic, onions, sardines and washed rind cheeses. In regards to the socioeconomic issues it reminds me of a quote from oscar wilde; “work is the scourge of the drinking class”.

  6. AppEric - July 6, 2007

    I have a feeling that whoever is paying for these studies/writing these articles is trying to scare a lot of different people. This was posted on Yahoo (AP Newswire) News 3 days ago:
    “Alcohol dependence was significantly more prevalent among men, whites, Native Americans, younger and unmarried adults and those with lower incomes,” – the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
    Is it a coincidence that this basically describes every guy that just graduated from college?

  7. Alcoholism - July 6, 2007

    Here’s a website you may find useful. is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

  8. Wine Boy! - July 9, 2007

    Got to
    Stanton Peele’s website about addiction and it will change how you view “addictions”

  9. Sam - November 7, 2007

    Another good addiction site with an education center covering all addiction categories is

  10. No Drug Abuse - December 4, 2007

    I am going to take a somewhat different approach than the one taken by you or by your commenters: if 23.9 percent of people who make less than $20,000 per year and 41.4 percent of people who make more than $70,000 have alcohol disorders, then it appears that we, not unlike other industrialized nations such as Great Britain, Finland, and Ireland, have an alcohol disorder crisis on our hands.
    So what’s my solution or my “take” on this crisis?
    First, I think that the alcohol disorder crisis is due in part to the fact that many people in the industrialized nations are developing poorer coping skills rather than learning better ways to cope with life. If this is the case, then all of the industrialized countries need to initiate a major educational effort that teaches people of all ages, especially the young, how to become masters at coping with life and how to become expert decision makers so that they can start making more productive and healthy decisions in their everyday lives and learn how to avoid alcohol disorders before they become out-of-control problems.

  11. Paul C. Herson - February 4, 2009

    How a caffeine diet can help our nutrition and diet?
    Having a caffeine diet including other foods and beverages is not a bad idea; conversely, it can be a good combination because coffee produces many health benefits in the human body. I would like to give you some information about the benefits of a caffeine diet, the caffeine effects and why caffeine addiction is something you must prevent to avoid any health risks.
    A caffeine diet is good because this famous substance, consumed all around the world and known for years, helps our body to feel more energized when we need it the most. Drinking a cup of coffee boots our body energy and our nervous system so that we can feel ready to perform our normal duties during the day. So, like I said, a caffeine diet is not bad as long as you control it carefully.
    Bearing in mind all the past worry about potential health risks from drinking coffee, newer reports of coffee’s possible protective effects may leave many people confused, but in general, recent studies propose that coffee (both regular and decaffeinated) may present a variety of health benefits against diseases like cancer and diabetes. On the other hand, coffee may not merit a place in the same category with other healthful foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, because it is not as healthy as those.
    It is thrilling that something as easy as drinking coffee might help us lower our risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but brewed coffee (not instant) is a concentrated source of antioxidants and it can not be a substitute for berries, legumes, nuts, and other fruits and vegetables that provide antioxidants along with a wide range of vitamins, protective compounds and dietary fiber, so be careful with that.
    A caffeine diet is important to reduce various health risks, but we still need to consider that caffeine addiction is never a good idea either, we have to control the amount of caffeine that we consume because not all caffeine effects are positive, some of them are really injurious for our health condition.
    Examples of negative caffeine effects that we must consider when we have a caffeine diet are: irritability, upset stomach, headaches, high blood pressure, changes of mood when not taken, etc. If you are having problems controlling your caffeine diet and you need help choosing decaffeinated products or you just do not know which products contain caffeine so you can reduce their intake, then you can talk to a doctor and he will be able to help you out so you don´t have problems with your caffeine diet, negative caffeine effects or caffeine addiction. Remember that the only way to prevent caffeine addiction is by controlling the amount of caffeinated products that you intake on a daily basis.
    You can find more info at:

  12. Antoinette B. Kean - February 4, 2009

    Burgundy wine (French: Bourgogne or Vin de Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France.[1] The most famous wines produced here – those commonly referred to as Burgundies – are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as “Burgundy wines”. Burgundy has a higher number of Appellation d’origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry. The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis). Overview in the middle, the southern part to the left, and the northern part to the right. The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include Irancy, which produces red wines and Saint-Bris, which produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d’Or, where Burgundy’s most famous and most expensive wines originate, and where all Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy (except for Chablis Grand Cru) are situated. The Côte d’Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. The best wines – from “Grand Cru” vineyards – of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the “Premier Cru” come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary “Village” wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region’s white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune. This is explained by the presence of different soils, which favour Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively. Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d’Or. Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay. Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy. You can find more info at:

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