There is an unspoken hierarchy among alcoholics. Big-time alkies drank whiskey or tequila or vodka, straight out of the bottle. They were respected. They had serious problems.

The bottom rung was us beer drinkers. We were the lightweights. Many alcoholics didn’t even recognize us as one of them. “How can you be an alcoholic? You only drink beer?”

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I never saw myself as a problem drinker. I had never progressed. I didn’t like hard booze, although, if offered, I might take a sip. I didn’t like wine. Mixed drinks did nothing for me. I was a beer girl. Since I had never moved on to the “hard stuff”, how could I have a problem?

Many people believe you simply can’t be an alcoholic if your drink of choice is beer. That is simply wrong. Beer contains the same addictive ingredient as the hard stuff – ethyl alcohol – and just requires the intake of a little more liquid to get as drunk.

Most alcoholics are not whiskey-swigging, skid row bums. Most alcoholics actually do drink beer. More Americans drink beer than any other beverage by a long run. More than 4 billion cans of beer are consumed by college students each year (and 75% of those students aren’t old enough to consume them!).

I always considered beer as harmless as a bottle of Perrier. Tasty, bubbly, cold, and refreshing. How could it have anything in common with the harsh taste, burning sensation, and wicked hangovers of liquor? I was mistaken. As the great comic Steven Wright once wisely asked, “24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?” I guess not