Determining for yourself “am I an alcoholic,” or not, is not a simple question. An alcoholic is someone who suffers from the disease formerly known as “alcoholism” (now known as alcohol use disorder).
The only way to know for certain is to have an assessment done by a professional. Like any disease, the medical community needs a set of exact guidelines to use when diagnosing a condition. The Behavioral Health community uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
The DSM has recently updated the criteria for alcoholism. One of the biggest revisions was “Alcoholism” is no longer the latest terminology. Alcoholism is now referred to as “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD).
People who are alcohol abusers are able to somewhat control their drinking to some degree. Alcohol abusers can also be destructive to themselves and those they love, and will often get alcoholism is progressive, within a matter of time. As a guide, here are some questions that will help you determine if your drinking habits place you in this category.
- 1. Do you constantly neglect your responsibilities due to drinking? This can include work, school and even family or social obligations.
- 2. Are you reckless in your consumption of alcohol by drinking when it is a dangerous? Some popular examples include drinking and driving or mixing alcohol consumption with prescription medicine.
- 3. Do you find yourself in constant or repeated legal trouble because of your drinking habits?
- 4. Do you drink even though alcohol is causing major problems in your current relationships?
- 5. Are you choosing to drink from the need to relax or reduce stress?
10 Question Quiz
Deciding whether to go get a professional assessment is not an easy decision.
If you answer yes to four or more of these questions it indicates alcohol consumption is becoming a problem and it may be time to seek help.
- Have you ever decided to stop drinking?
- Have you ever switched from whiskey to beer or wine?
- Do you ever need a drink in the morning to feel better?
- Do you envy people who can drink “normally”?
- Does alcohol cause you problems at home?
- Do you ever feel a few drinks is not enough?
- Do you ever go out for a few drinks and end up drunk?
- Have you ever missed work (or school) due of drinking?
- Have you ever ‘blacked-out’ due to alcohol?
- Do you think you might have a drinking problem?
Much like other potentially fatal illnesses, alcoholism can be put into remission, with the proper care and treatment. Those who drink ‘too much’ may be on the verge of alcoholism. The term “alcoholic” has a certain amount of negative connotations to it. Being labeled as an alcoholic may generate judgments of that person’s character and moral fiber. There are many other indicators that could help assess the possibility of a drinking problem such as feelings of guilt or shame, and lying to friends and family about your alcohol consumption. Have you ever needed a drink to help you relax or make yourself ‘feel better’? Do you often drink far more than you actually intended to? You might have found that slippery slope that leads to alcoholism without realizing it.
Alcoholic beverages enjoyed in moderation may not impact your overall health but like all things, drinking can quickly become a habit. Enjoying wine, spirits or beer for special occasions aren’t as likely to cause drinking problems but continued use in social settings could lead to a habit that is not only hard to break but also very hard on your health.
Understanding The Disease of Alcohol Use Disorder
It isn’t always black and white when looking at evidence that could suggest alcoholism, and the road to problem drinking is a slippery slope that often begins with moderate use. The risks of alcoholism are especially high if your alcohol consumption occurs during the times when you are stressed or depressed.
Several emotional elements as well as other mental health problems, such as anxiety issues or a bipolar disorder, can put you at high risk for alcoholism since people who try to ‘medicate’ themselves typically use alcohol. However, these are not the only reasons for alcohol abuse, as there are many other interrelated factors that can lead to a drinking problem.
Some of these influences can include an individual’s genetic background and social environment, as well as your emotional health and the events of your childhood. Family history, and more specifically, the drinking habits of close relatives to whom you closely relate to, can also increase the likelihood of your developing a drinking problem.
You may be surprised to know that ethnicity also plays an active role in determining the probability of alcohol abuse, since Native Alaskans and American Indians are more prone to the risks of alcoholism than other racial groups. Culture can also play an active role in the onset of alcoholism as drinking is more prevalent among some cultural groups.
There are many more factors and determinants that help define the problem of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, and because alcoholism is something that sneaks up on you gradually, you should be aware of the indicators that point to a potential problem. Taking steps to prevent this occurrence is your best defense against the disease.
The line between social drinking and problem drinking is one that is blurred, which is why so many people become alcoholics without realizing they have a drinking problem. These drinkers fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, which leads to the problem affecting several other aspects of their lives and even the people that they love most.
Looking closely at how alcohol affects your own life is the best was to assess a possible drinking problem. Some believe that, when drinking starts causing problems in your life, there is a drinking problem. There are two types of problem drinkers according to the experts: alcoholics and alcohol abusers.
The Bottom Line
Alcoholism was also known as “alcohol dependence”. It is now called “Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD is a fatal, progressive disease. So the the question of being an alcoholic comes down to whether a person is suffering from the disease of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
AA is one of the most prevalent organizations in the United States, known for their help in teaching people to assess and learn to control their drinking problems. Below are some of the questions used by AA to help people determine whether they are guilty of alcohol abuse. In AA you are an alcoholic only if you think you are one.