“How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic?”
Unfortunately for everybody, there is no quick and easy test for alcoholism. Imagine how much simpler treating alcoholism would be if a simple test could determine alcoholism! Unlike other diseases, alcoholism requires a self-diagnosis, which means the opinions of doctors and family don’t mean anything unless the person accepts they are an alcoholic. Our society has exaggerated and varying beliefs about what constitutes alcoholism. The truth is that there is no ‘standard-case’ for alcoholism. Alcoholics come in all shapes and sizes. So how do you judge whether you or a loved one is alcoholic?
As a recovering alcoholic who has heard hundreds of other alcoholics stories, I will try to summarize some of the behaviors many alcoholics have in common. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just my personal observations from experiencing, fighting, and overcoming alcoholism.
Can’t Have Just ‘One Drink’
- Alcoholism includes a craving that occurs when alcohol enters the body and acts on the brain. Someone suffering from alcoholism will find it extremely difficult to have just one drink and stop.
Drinking More Than You Planned
- Have you ever planned to have a few drinks and ended up drunk? Alcoholics, once they have one drink, generally lose control over their ability to moderate or stop drinking. If you find yourself getting drunk ‘accidentally’ it may be a sign of alcoholism.
Sobriety is Unbearable or Intolerable
- Does alcohol provide some relief from the stress and boredom of reality? When not drinking do you think about drinking or plan the next time you can drink? Non-alcoholics do not need alcohol to enjoy a concert, wedding, football game, etc.
- Non-alcoholics, if they get a hangover, will start drinking less or even take a break from drinking. A hangover should be a warning sign that you drank too much. However, when an alcoholic gets a hangover it doesn’t really slow down their drinking. Alcoholics become used to hangovers and invent remedies and ‘tricks’ to deal with being hungover.
Different Personality When Drinking
- Alcohol affects people differently. For the alcoholic it seems to drastically change their mood and behavior. Do you do or say things when drinking that you normally wouldn’t when sober?
Difficulty Quitting Drinking
- I advise many people who are wondering if they have a drinking problem to conduct a simple test; try to go a whole month without taking a sip of alcohol. If you can’t make it a month or are miserable and uncomfortable without alcohol, then you may need to evaluate your relationship with alcohol.