People who are charged or convicted with a DUI may wonder whether they have a drinking problem.
Many people find that when given sufficient reason, like a DUI from impaired driving, they can stop drinking. If you can stop drinking, or drink only in moderation, without undue difficulty, you are not suffering from addiction. People who have a substance use disorder centered on alcohol find it extremely difficult to modify their drinking habits even in the face of legal consequences–and even if they wish they could stop drinking.
It’s not unusual for people in addiction treatment to talk about how they could not stay sober even when their job, livelihood, safety, or relationships were at stake.
Addiction is a disease that hijacks the brain, driving the person to use even when they experience negative consequences. They may be able to regulate or stop their drinking for a time but soon find themselves back to their old habits during times of stress or unhappiness. And when they drink, they feel like they have to drink to excess in order to enjoy it. They want to feel the effects produced by alcohol. Once they start drinking, they can’t stop; and once they stop, they can’t stay stopped.