Person A rarely drinks. When Person A does it is at some sort of lively gathering of friends and/or family, like a good ol' summer barbeque or something of that nature. But when Person A does drink, he or she cannot stop. Person A's personality totally changes. The person becomes belligerent, insulting, and vindictive, a stark contrast to how sweet, loyal, kind, and loving the person usually is. Person A will continue to drink for days, maybe even a week or more. Person A will do anything to keep drinking and defy all efforts from well-meaning loved ones to stop him or her. Person A will even hide alcohol in various places around the house and drink in secret, in hiding. The binge ends when the person hits "rock bottom," as it were, and everybody convinces the person to stop in some sort of intervention. Once the drinking didn't stop until Person A was pulled over for drunk driving (it is never a good idea to cut off a squad car while drunk). Years will go by before Person A has another drink, but when he or she does, the cycle repeats itself. Person A displays no physical characteristics of heavy drinking for, as stated above, Person A rarely drinks.
Person B drinks quite often. Person B is a very social person and goes to the local bar or pub on a regular basis. Person B is always pleasant to be around and this person's personality does not change significantly when he or she is inebriated, just the usual unshackling of some inhibitions and the slurred speech. Person B, unlike Person A, is fun to be around when drunk and Person B only gets slightly annoying when one must hold him or her up after a long night of partying. Even then, you smile, shrug, and do it, maybe laughing as you do so. Person B does not get that drunk on a regular basis. Person B jokes all the time about how long his or her liver has left which demonstrates that Person B is at least somewhat aware of the risks of consuming that much alcohol. Person B needs not hide alcohol and always has beer or somesuch in his or her refrigerator. Person B does not usually drink at home unless it is with dinner or if him or her is the actual thrower of the party. The only physical characteristics of drinking Person B displays is a bit of a beer gut.
Person C drinks on a daily basis, whether at parties or not, whether it is 9AM, Noon, or 7PM. Person C does not get stone cold, falling-down drunk on a regular basis, but is rarely seen 100% sober. Beer is a usual beverage for most meals like soda is for other individuals. Yet somehow Person C's life is not a disaster and he or she somehow functions. Person C does not appear to be the stereotypical alcoholic in the movies and TV that alienate everybody, wreck their only car and end up sleeping in an alley somewhere with no money or friends. Person C has drove drunk quite often. This person is very fortunate that the accidents she or he has so far been in have been single-car accidents that had only caused minor injuries. Person C is red-faced and bloated, fat and generally not healthy-looking at all. In fact, ironically, Person C looked most healthy after coming out of a long hospital stay after an ATV accident. No drinking or smoking for almost a month de-aged Person C by about twenty years.
Most people think I am crazy when I tell them that I believe that Person A is an alcoholic and Person B is not. Person C obviously is but quite besides the main point I want to make and was only provided here as a control example. Person C demonstrates traits of both Persons A and B as in he or she drinks often but when really drunk gets mean, loud, and sometimes quite unpleasant to be around. But because Person B's personality does not change when Person B is drinking and the drinking seems to be only for social purposes. Person B has quite a handle on his/her drinking and I do not believe this person to be an alcoholic. Most people have the misconception (that I believe is inaccurate) that an alcoholic needs to be a person who drinks all of the time and, concurrently, believe that anybody who drinks often cannot control themselves and must be an alcoholic. The basic fact is, an alcoholic has to be somebody who is addicted to alcohol and once he or she begins drinking has extreme difficulty stopping. Person B can and does cease drinking entirely from time to time for various reasons and only craves the alcohol like somebody with a sweet tooth craves Ding Dongs. The need to seek out alcohol does not become a all-consuming imperative with Person B as it does with Person A. The bottom line here is, I believe that alcoholism does not have to do with the quantity of drinking, but how it affects the personality and behavior of the person drinking.
By the way, lest you think that Person B only still looks fairly good because he or she is still young, I would like to point out that – in all likelihood - all of the three have fewer days ahead than behind.
Granted, I am not a doctor and, as such, I have obviously not studied the chemistry of each subject's blood under a microscope. I know each of these people and only know what I see. You are more than welcome to inform me how wrong I am; I am only telling you what I believe, observations from the information I, personally, have gathered. I suspect most of you have known at least one person like each of them and may know exactly what I am talking about. I wrote this for that reason, because I believe most people can relate to it. Also, this node was severely lacking, given the state of the other short write-ups in it.
If you feel I am in error anywhere, please /msg me. I will add any comments of refutation or praise, if you want me to, to the bottom of this write up.