This is my favorite definition of what an alcoholic is. It comes from Father Robert Burns article, “The Catholic and Alcoholics Anonymous” written in 1952.

Whether a man or woman is an alcoholic is not determined by how often or how much he or she drinks, but rather by reaction and control (or lack of control) to the use of alcoholic beverages. Thus, there are many persons who drink who are definitely not alcoholics, some who occasionally overindulge in drinking but yet cannot be classed as alcoholics. To use an old expression, the alcoholic is a person who, once having turned on the tap, cannot turn it off.


Sometimes I could control it. But often I couldn’t. People who don’t have this (recovery literature calls it a “manifestation of an allergy”) like I do, never struggle with control, amount, or frequency. They like it. But they take it or leave it.