As a family substance abuse counselor, my clients frequently poise a concern about their loved one's alcoholic intake and whether or not they are really an alcoholic. I hear statements such as "I think my girlfriend is an alcoholic because she drinks almost a bottle of wine while making dinner," or "My husband frequently comes home inebriated, but he swears he can handle it and hasn't been in trouble because of his drinking" or "I really don't think I have a drinking problem just because I've had a DUI."
Specifics and actual questions to determine whether one is or is not in trouble with their drinking can help with the answer.
Though I am not personally in recovery from alcohol or other mind-altering drugs, my own family and friends struggle with the disease. Professionally, I have worked with hundreds of clients with addiction issues and without, and the best litmus test for determining if one is an alcoholic comes from the strong and respectful program of Alcoholics Anonymous and it's 12 simple questions.
The following list is taken word for word from their pamphlet "Is AA for You?" If honestly answered, you can determine your own disposition. If you answer "yes" to four or more of these questions, you may be in trouble with your drinking.
So, what's your score? Remember, four or more and you may wish to strongly consider changing your lifestyle.
I have presented this questionnaire to my clients that are the family members or friends of the prospective alcoholic. It has proven very interesting (and different) as to see how they see their loved ones in connection with alcohol. Often the prospective alcoholic is in denial about their possible addiction issue and may dismiss theses questions as bunk, defend and justify their position with flimsy reasoning or take a combative stance. They can't or don't want to visualize themselves in this position, even though their mate, spouse, parent, sibling or whomever can see these dispositions as clear as day.
One last thought. Just because someone may not meet this criteria does not mean they don't or might not have an issue with alcohol. For some, two glasses of wine can find them blotto, irresponsible and no longer a social drinker. As the family member or friend, don't let the prospective alcoholic say "See, I'm not an alcoholic, I haven't answered "yes" to four of these questions." They may have a different gauge or actions that might make them just as vulnerable to alcoholism as the person whom these concerns fit like a glove.
For the prospective alcoholic that is reading this, be your own honest judge. You know yourself better than anyone. Even if you are not ready to encompass a clean and sober lifestyle, be true to yourself and take the first step in admitting the possibility that you may indeed have the disease of alcoholism. It is nothing to be ashamed of; it can actually be empowering to start taking control of your life. You and your family and friends will be very grateful that one day (hopefully sooner than later) you will seek a healthy, loving relationship with not only yourself, but them as well.
Please do leave a comment below or drop me an email with your thoughts, suggestions or requests for future areas of focus.