Alcohol abuse disorder, commonly referred to as alcoholism, cannot only cause a lot of harm to your body and lifestyle but can also negatively affect individuals around you. If alcohol is the center of your life to the extent that you are struggling with work, personal relationships, finances, and other aspects of your life; then you may be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. It is essential to keep in mind that you are not alone in this battle. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people or one in every 12 adults are diagnosed with an alcohol abuse disorder and millions of more individuals engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking that can potentially lead to alcohol abuse disorder. So how do you know if your relationship with alcohol is just a bad habit you can kick or if it is becoming a disorder where professional help is needed?
Signs you may have an alcohol abuse disorder
It is up to you to seek treatment for your disorder. Fortunately, there are many resources in your community that can help you. However, you must first be willing to admit that you do have an alcohol addiction.
The following are common questions to ask yourself if you think you have an alcohol addiction:
- Have you ever tried to stop drinking for a week or longer but only lasted a couple of days?
- Has your drinking ever caused you trouble at home?
- Has your drinking ever caused you trouble with your job?
- Have you ever felt the need to have a drink in the morning to curb shakiness?
- Do you have “blackouts”? A blackout occurs when you have been drinking for a while, and you cannot recall any events.
- Do you drink when you are stressed out, disappointed, or are in a fight with someone?
- Have you ever had withdrawal symptoms from alcohol? These can include a racing heart, nausea, vomiting, tremors, or seizures.
- Have you lost relationships because of your drinking?
- Has your temper escalated out of control while under the influence?
- Have you ever operated a motor vehicle while under the influence?
- Have you ever tried to hide your drinking habits from your friends or family?
- Has anyone close to you expressed concern about your drinking?
- Do you often find yourself in a hurry to have your first drink of the day?
- Do you ever feel disappointed or uncomfortable if alcohol is not available in a social setting?
Alcohol screening tools
Alcohol screening tools are designed to help medical and mental health professionals screen individuals for alcohol abuse disorder and further diagnose them so they can seek appropriate treatment. However, you are also able to use these tools to test yourself if you think you may have an alcohol use disorder. These tools are objective and therefore, can give you a clear-cut answer on whether you should seek professional treatment for alcohol abuse. Many individuals with this disease go untreated because they are never diagnosed. Screening tools are often the first assessment tools used to find out if further evaluation is warranted.
AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) is a 10-question test that screens for harmful alcohol consumption
- How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
- How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?
- How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
- How usually during the last year have you found that you were unable to stop drinking once you have started?
- How often in the previous year did you fail to do what is usually expected of you because of drinking?
- How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
- How often in the previous year have you needed an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning to get yourself going after a night of heavy drinking?
- How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
- Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
- Has a relative, friend, doctor, or another health professional expressed concern about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
CAGE This screening tool is a four-question assessment that is used to determine if a thorough alcohol assessment is needed.
- Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves (an eye-opener)?
Other alcohol screening tools include the following: