Many people think of the true alcoholic as an isolationist, a person that has gotten so over-the-top that they must hide their consumption from the world. It may be true that eventually a great number of alcoholics will get to the point of drinking alone and in secret, but a multitude of times the isolationist started out as a party drinker. Also, just because you don't isolate does not mean you don't have a problem.
This is one aspect I struggled with. Although I drank alone without issue (cause I drank all of the time) I also did a fair amount of drinking around others and in a party atmosphere. I assumed that this was considered normal drinking in my twenties. Some people can over consume for a period and stop abruptly and some cannot. I've seen friends that I partied HARD with go on to get Ph.D's and live sober lives. I've also seen a number of my friends develop pancreatic problems, liver problems and be in the constant in-and-out rehab cycle. I guess looking back there were some indications if my friends were going to continue to abuse alcohol past a reasonable party period. A big indicator was blacking out. All of the people I know who used to black out from drinking went on to become full blown alcoholics. Also, the friends of mine that had a fascination and obsession with alcohol; ones that seemed defined by their partying and assumed it as a part of their identity. Another big one is the need to go out so that they could justify having another night of drinking.
There are labels that warn us that drinking can negatively effect us as women if we are pregnant, but what about warning someone that they may become an alcoholic? I didn't even consider that my fun drinking would lead to an inability to quit. I was not raised around alcohol and may have been a bit naive, but I've also talked to people who weren't as sheltered and still felt immune from the disease. I think it's important to know that if you are in a party period or thinking it's normal to drink to excess you may already be in the throws of an addiction.