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by Abigail Van Buren

Heavy Drinker Refuses To Lighten Up

DEAR ABBY: I've been dating my 42-year-old boyfriend, "Mike," for a year. I love him, but he's a heavy drinker. He has a glass or two of whiskey on a daily basis and goes through a huge bottle of whiskey every weekend. (He also drinks beer like water.) When I asked him to cut back, he refused because he "loves" whiskey. I have never seen him drunk or act intoxicated, so he obviously has a high tolerance.

It bothers me that Mike drinks so much and that he won't cut back. I told him I wouldn't marry him unless he does. My problem is, I don't know whether he's an alcoholic since he doesn't ever show signs of intoxication. I've been told that alcoholism is a progressive disease and that it will only increase.

What constitutes an alcoholic? Is it possible for Mike to drink every day but not be one? I don't want to lose him, but he also has a very bad temper, and I'm afraid it's not a good combination if we were to get married. -- TORN IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR TORN: You are right to be concerned. Even if Mike promised "not to drink so much," he might backslide on his promise after the wedding.

Also, has it occurred to you that the whiskey may be part of what is causing Mike's bad temper? Large quantities of alcohol have been known to alter a person's perception, and the results can be explosive. If you haven't already done so, consider attending an Al-Anon meeting, which may confirm this.

I'm not a medical doctor, but it would be interesting to know what your boyfriend's physician thinks about the amount of alcohol he consumes, because the quantity you say Mike puts away may put him at risk for cirrhosis of the liver.

This may be more information than you asked for, but I don't think Mike is marriage material because it appears he is already wedded to his bottle.

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