Am I An Alcoholic?

The sub-questions are designed to help shed light on the basic question. Read them only if necessary, but don't count them separately. What will eventually happen is that you will have a discussion with yourself; this is only an outline to give your conversation some constructive direction.

This survey was written by recovering people. They had the same questions while they were still drinking or using and probably came up with the same answers. They survived and so will you. But there needs to be a starting point, and question No. 1 is as good a place as any ...

1. Is there some particular reason why you are concerned about your drinking at this time?

  • Are you drinking more often that you used to, or greater quantities when you do drink?
  • Are you able to drink more without getting drunk?
  • Do you sometimes have the shakes or other discomfort the next morning, and does a pick-me-up drink help make you feel better?

2. Is one of the reasons for your concern the fact that some people are getting on your back about your drinking?

  • Do close friends say you are acting differently these days, or that you undergo some kind of personality change when you drink?
  • Are they suggesting that you cut down or cut it out?

3. Do you have other friends that you prefer to be around these days -- people who don't mind your drinking, or don't mention it?

  • Are these new friends that you've recently made?
  • Are they fairly good drinkers, also?
  • Do you have much else in common with them, or are drinking-related activities your main bond?
  • Do you tend to prefer social events where drinking is more readily available?

4. Have you had more than two or three memory lapses (called blackouts) in the past 90 days?

  • After an evening or other period of drinking, have you forgotten where you left your car?
  • Or how you got home?
  • Have you had to call someone the next day to fill you in on what you were doing the night before?

5. Do you sometimes regret things that you may have said or done while you were drinking?

  • Are you ever embarrassed to the extent that you want to avoid certain people, or going back to a place where you may have done some foolish things?
  • Do you wish that you could undo those things, or ever think that less drinking might help prevent them from happening again?

6. Do you drink more than the people you are with, or do you ever load up your drinks so others don't notice what you are doing?

  • Do you order or mix doubles for yourself while others are drinking singles?
  • Do you carry an extra supply with you in case the host runs out, or the bar closes before you are ready to quit?
  • Is there anything unusual about your drinking habits that might make other people wonder!

7. Have you gotten careless about things that used to be important to you, or have you dropped certain activities from your routine?

  • Do you spend less time with your children, spouse, or other family members than you used to?
  • Are you less interested in some of your former hobbies or sports or entertainment source?
  • Are you reducing outside activities that interfere with your drinking?

8. Have you tried or considered changing things in your life in order to get along better and eliminate some of the problems?

  • Have you thought of leaving your spouse, or the family, or going away for a while to give everybody a little extra space?
  • Have you thought about changing jobs, or maybe even moving to another part of the country where you could make a clean start, without the hassles and disadvantages from the past?

9. Do you ever wonder if some of the problems that may accompany your drinking would be lessened or go away, if you decided to stop entirely?

  • Are there family arguments that might not flare up so often?
  • Would work (or school) tardiness or absenteeism be somewhat improved?
  • Are there financial or business setbacks that could be reduced? Insurance problems? Checkbook or household budget balancing?
  • Difficulties in meeting obligations or paying back loans?

10. Have you ever promised yourself that you would really try to cut down on your drinking without quitting altogether?

  • Have you tried skipping certain nights of the week, or hours of the day, when you wouldn't drink at all?
  • Have you tried switching brands or type of alcohol in order to keep from getting so drunk or losing control so much?
  • Have you tried putting someone else in charge of your drinking to help you cut down?

11. Have you ever tried to quit -- totally -- and not been able to?

  • Have you ever set a date or duration when you would actually try to stop?
  • Were there reasons why the effort really never took hold, or the timing never seemed right?
  • Did your promise to quit seem less important when the deadline to quit rolled around?
  • Was it easier to continue drinking than to fight the situation, and are you still drinking at this time?

12. Was it difficult for you to make this self examination, and is this a subject you consider too personal to discuss with others?

  • Do you intentionally avoid discussions about your drinking or its complications?
  • Do you sometimes have your spouse or other persons intervene for you, or make excuses about your tardiness or other related problems?

SCORING

This is the simplest scoring system in the annals of do-it-yourself testing. Any "YES" answer to a main or sub-question has earned you membership in a not very exclusive population of several million people with drinking or drugging problems. The more "YES's" you toted up, the better off you are. Every "YES" you were able to mentally put down was a striking symbol of personal honesty. It meant that you have begun the process of self-realization -- a principle in which virtually all recovery problems are based. Without personal recognition of your condition, there can be no meaningful recovery.

If you will consider each "YES" to be a minor victory in this same sense, you might want to take the test again and see how many more "YES's" you can identify. The enemies of recovery are guilt, denial and alibis. The allies are acceptance, understanding and honesty.

If the results of the test suggest that you, or whoever you took the test for, are an alcoholic or other chemical dependent, congratulations. Now you're getting somewhere.

LIFELINE American Magazine