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Anyone who has ever dealt with an alcoholic knows they all have one thing in common - excuses. An alcoholic is a master at justifying why they drink and why they do not have a problem. This makes them very hard to confront and can hamper any attempts to offer them help.

While there is no easy way to talk to someone about their drinking, it is an important part of helping them. With this in mind, we have compiled some of the most common excuses given by alcoholics to justify their drinking. By knowing these excuses ahead of time, you can be better prepared to speak with someone about their drinking.

  1. “I don’t drink in the morning.” This is an old classic. Many alcoholics will justify their drinking by telling you they do not drink all day. This does not mean they do not drink too much though. Remember, it is about the amount they drink, not when they choose to do their drinking.

  2. “I don’t drink every day.” The UK government has both daily and weekly recommendations for safe drinking. That means that, just because someone takes a day off, they may still be drinking far more than they should in any one day or over the course of a week.

  3. “I go to work.” This again is a favourite excuse alcoholics pull out when they are cornered. However, working just makes them a functioning alcoholic. Besides, going to work does not mean they are necessarily as productive as they could be and they are still making poor choices with their alcohol consumption.

  4. “I don’t have time for alcohol treatment.” This is a common excuse but it also makes no sense. Taking the time for treatment means an alcoholic will have a longer and healthier life. If anything, continuing to drink to excess is going to cost someone more time than treatment.

  5. “I can take it or leave it and I don’t have cravings.” Alcoholics can take a day or even a week off drinking; the problem is, they quickly slip back into old habits and begin drinking to excess. Also, an absence of cravings does not mean there is not a problem. Often, alcoholics never stop drinking for long enough to experience cravings. Others may have a mental rather than a physical addiction and drink to numb their feelings.

  6. “All my friends do it.” This is a pretty flimsy argument in itself. An alcoholic may surround themselves with other heavy drinkers but that does not mean their behaviour is any less harmful.

  7. “I only drink because I am stressed/depressed/sad.” This excuse is actually an unwitting admission of a problem. People who drink to numb pain, ease depression or repress sadness are still addicts. For these people, drinking is often both the cause of and solution to many of their problems.

  8. “It helps with my pain.” Some people use alcohol to dull physical or emotional pain. This is just another example of something called self-medication. This is where a person uses or abuses a substance simply because it makes them feel better. It does not justify the physical and emotional damage an alcoholic does to themselves and those around them. More importantly, self-medication solves nothing. 

  9. “I can’t sleep without it.” While alcohol is a depressant, it is not a sleep aid. In fact, alcohol can actually hinder sleep.

  10. “I don’t drink spirits.” It does not matter where you get your alcohol from; it only matters how much you drink. Saying you don’t drink spirits is like saying you don’t smoke unfiltered cigarettes. Spirits may have more alcohol by volume but it is all down to how much alcohol a person consumes, be it beer, spirits, wine or other alcoholic beverages.
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