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Questioning whether or not you are an alcoholic means taking a deeper look at how alcohol consumption plays a role in your life. We dive into alcohol addiction and how to determine if you are an alcoholic.

The stereotypical image of an alcoholic is someone homeless, asking for change on the street, and appearing to have given up on life to drink. That is not always the case. Alcoholism appears differently in everyone, from the party person to the person who hides their drinking. The disease can take various forms and appear differently in each person. If someone finds themselves drinking regularly, they might ask themselves, “am I an alcoholic?”

Even though the symptoms of alcoholism are different for each person, anyone who displays some level of concern most likely has a drinking problem. The good news is that recognition of a problem is the first step to recovery.

What are the signs if I am an alcoholic?

SIGNS OF HEAVY DRINKING

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol use disorder.”

Binge drinking: A drinking patterns that lead to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. This is around four drinks for women and five drinks for men in 2 hours.

Heavy alcohol use: For men, this is defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, it is consuming eight glasses or more per week. Additionally, both “binge drinking on five or more days in the past month” is defined as heavy drinking.

BEHAVIORAL SIGNS OF ALCOHOLISM

There are many signs of alcoholism besides just drinking patterns and amounts. The behavioral signs of alcoholism are often more important to identify, as heavy drinkers tend to “function normally” as their tolerance for alcohol builds. The other symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Isolating one’s self, including absence from work, school, or other social obligations
  • Joking about addiction
  • Ignoring major work, home, or school responsibilities
  • Overall lack of motivation
  • Legal or financial problems related to drinking
  • Drinking at all times of the day and when you are alone
  • Denial or trying to hide any signs of a problem
  • Dramatic changes in appearance
  • Neglect of personal care and hygiene

These signs can be crucial red warning flags to signal a severe problem or addiction. Even though some of the behaviors can be disregarded as a one-time occurrence, they are usually an indication of a serious drinking problem.

Am I an alcoholic if I crave alcohol?

Alcohol craving can be another symptom of alcoholism. Sometimes, the desire to drink can be so overpowering that your body is unable to focus on anything else. Craving alcohol is the body’s way of trying to stop the symptoms of withdrawal. Asking yourself questions like “am I an alcoholic if I crave alcohol?” is often a sign that a drinking problem exists. If cravings are present, take a look at the questions below to address the severity of the alcohol problem.

Is there a test to see if I am an alcoholic?

The criteria in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) can be used to determine if an individual suffers from Alcohol Use Disorder. Encouraging a loved one to take some kind of “am I an alcoholic test” can be helpful in guiding them towards recovery treatment.

The following questions can serve as a test to see if someone has a serious problem and can all be answered with a “yes” or “no”.

In the past 12 months, have you…

  • Drank more or longer than you intended?
  • Tried to reduce your drinking but were unable to on more than one occasion?
  • Spent a lot of time trying to find alcohol, drinking, being sick from drinking, or hungover?
  • Felt cravings so strong that you could only think about drinking alcohol?
  • Realized that drinking or being hungover interfered with work, school, or family responsibilities?
  • Kept drinking despite problems with friends or family?
  • Stopped participating in activities you used to enjoy so you could drink
  • Participated in dangerous or reckless behavior after drinking on more than one occasion?
  • Kept drinking after feeling depressed or anxious, after blacking out, or after knowing it would worsen another health problem?
  • Had to consume more drinks than usual to feel the same effects?
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms (shakiness, trouble sleeping, nausea, depression, sweating, elevated heart rate, anxiety, irritability, or seizure) when the effects of alcohol started to wear off?

Answering “yes” to only two of the above questions indicate that Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) may be present. Very severe cases are defined by the presence of six or more symptoms within the past year. If that is the case, it is time to seek treatment.

Alcohol addiction is extremely common. Those who are brave enough to seek help will find themselves on the road to recovery and in pursuit of a healthy, sober life.

Are you or a loved one wondering if you are an alcoholic? We are here for you and we are here to help.