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High tolerance could mean trouble

      “I could consume $60 worth of drinks in an evening and still be standing,” said a slim, pretty, blond 20-year-old girl who had been in Alcoholics Anonymous for about four months.

      The young lady related that in her last drinking episode she downed a fifth of vodka a day for four days running. “I felt so out of control that last time that I was convinced I was an alcoholic,” she said.

      If the average man tried to put away a fifth of vodka a day, he would probably be dragged out feet first. Yet this little lady, not more than 100 pounds, could do it with ease.

      “I could do it and still be sneaky enough to fool my mother every day,” she said, recalling that she had conducted the entire four day bender at home. “I convinced my mother I just had a touch of the flu.”

      “I couldn’t stop drinking during the bender,” she said. “But it seemed I could taper it off a little if I started stumbling around. Then I would pour it on again an hour later. This cycle went on for four days. I couldn’t believe I was caught up in it, but I couldn’t stop. It taught me a lesson.”

      The girl experienced something that is common in alcoholism, a capacity to consume large quantities of alcohol. They are able to tolerate large amounts of it without showing a typical effect. Cases where individuals consume a quart a day or more for years are not uncommon. The same is true with addiction to other drugs and the costs are astronomical, furthering the trap.

      Unfortunately, in our culture a big capacity for alcohol is considered a mark of prowess. It may however be that the youth with the biggest tolerance are the adults who have the most trouble with alcoholism.

      Tolerance drastically diminishes in the late stages of alcohol addiction, confusing the user and creating new problems.

      It would be a helpful change in attitude in our country if people looked on high capacity for alcohol as a possible sign of trouble rather than a mark of distinction.

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