forge, my man... some hard to answer questions!
First, from what I've seen and heard from you, I would not assume you have a problem. But also, most people who have seen me, even quite close, I don't think they would say I have a problem. But again, if they followed me around the clock at home, they would know.
What a person following me might see:
Several days in a row - rising late, having a banana and a cup of coffee, reading the paper, getting nervous over job and money etc, pouring a glas of wine to check the mail, finding something interesting, another glass. Then something to do in town, walking, the library, checking the clock, when it's 3 PM there is cheep beer in a filthy bar, OK an art exhibition to get the time right, then bar, reading a criminal novel, two bottles, trying to write some notes in the diary, more beer, and some more. Now time to buy something to eat when children comes home. Done. But on the way home there is this other bar, I don't have to order, they know what beer I like, one, two... Home, dinner, a glass of red at the stove. Then tired, reading in bed, fall asleep
The telephone rings, oh have to have some beer in the hand when answering etc. Like smoking, when I did.
Now, one of the factors making it a problem is also the mere cost. I did some calculus and the amount of money it takes for a month is astonishing! No mystery why I don't have anything left.
This behaviour started when I began working away from the family, the one beer on evenings thing - which was OK and fine. Then having something back in the fridge to, then starting to have something before journeys, on the journey etc. And finally, quitting the job, I could expand this trend.
My drinking habits does not make my state obviuous like when people drink themselves unconsciuos. I never do that, I even don't like to be real drunk. So it's more like a "medication" I guess, keeping things behind a curtain. You noticed I did not follow when thre more crazy part of the night started in Berlin, for instance. On the other hand I had some sips on my own before going to the saturday discussions.
Well, some bad signs:
Kids hear the snap of opening beer cans and say I should not have beer all the time. I start opening while making some other noise instead. Or takes wine instead, more silent drinking...
I say: We need some milk and basicly that's just because I feel the urge to take a trip to the pub before something - before my brother comes, my ex comes, that or that is supposed to happen etc.
So, as you said, there is symtoms going on here, and other things may replace the drinking. Now, instead of spending the afternoon in the filthy pub, I have managed to take a swim and have a tea instead at a café. Just for a start. Other nerve calmers.
Love, Live & Peace