There are many ways to define the term “alcoholic.” Consider two:
1. A person suffering from the consequences of over-consumption of alcohol.
2. A person who over-consumes alcohol.
The second is obviously broader. If we adopt the second, then the problem of alcoholism is more widespread than believed because of the existence of a population of bon vivants and bon vivant-wannabes.
A bon vivant and a bon vivant-wannabe can drink every bit as much as an alcoholic (in sense 1, that is, someone suffering from the complications of excessive alcohol consumption). Bon vivants drink before, during, and after a meal. If they consume a sufficient amount of healthy food during the day, particularly rich in methyl groups, vitamin A and B vitamins (the vitamins can also be conveniently supplemented), they do not suffer the consequences of this heavy drinking because they almost never substitute alcohol for a meal.
A person who suffers from alcoholism invariably substitutes alcohol consumption for one or more meals.
Again, a direct comparison between the health of groups of two over-consumers of alcohol, the bon vivant and the alcoholic (sense 1) would in all likelihood show that the health problem is not excess of alcohol per se, but nutrient deficiency, an insufficient intake of nutrients to support the excessive habitual drinking.
In addition, most alcoholics in sense 1 suffer from psychological ill-health, and poor restorative functions (lack of sleep and exercise). The bon vivant is healthy psychologically – he drinks for pleasure, not for escape from problems – and sleeps well enough to need little exercise to meet his restorative needs. Bon vivants rarely work out, but they are physically active – they frequently venture out to eat and they are active in night life and sight-seeing; they do not sit in front of a TV and drink a six pack. They don’t vegetate.