Friday, April 22, 2011


Alcohol abuse is described as any "harmful use" of alcohol.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV describes alcohol abusers as those who drink despite recurrent social, interpersonal, and legal problems as a result of alcohol use. Harmful use implies alcohol use that causes either physical or mental damage.

Those who are alcohol dependent meet all of the criteria of alcohol abuse, but they will also exhibit some or all of the following:

•Narrowing of the drinking repertoire (drinking only one brand or type of alcoholic beverage).

•Drink-seeking behavior (only going to social events that will include drinking, or only hanging out with others who drink).

•Alcohol tolerance (having to drink increasing amounts to achieve previous effects).

•Withdrawal symptoms (getting physical symptoms after going a short period without drinking).

•Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms (such as drinking to stop the shakes or to "cure" a hangover).

•Subjective awareness of the compulsion to drink or craving for alcohol (whether they admit it to others or not).

•A return to drinking after a period of abstinence (deciding to quit drinking and not being able to follow through).
Typically, those drinkers who are diagnosed as only alcohol abusers can be helped with a brief intervention, including education concerning the dangers of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.
Those who have become alcohol dependent generally require outside help to stop drinking, which could include detoxification, medical treatment, professional rehab or counseling and/or self-help group support.

In addition, here is a quick test that you can take....answer with 100% honesty or it won't do you any good. It will give you a better idea if your drinking may fall into harmful patterns and indicate whether or not you have a drinking problem. When answering the questions, use the past 12 months of your life as a time frame.

Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
Is drinking affecting your reputation?
Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
Have you had financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
Do you turn to inferior companions and environments when drinking?
Does your drinking make you careless of your family's welfare?
Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
Do you want a drink the next morning?
Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?
Do you drink alone?
Have you ever had a loss of memory as a result of drinking?
Has you physician ever treated you for drinking?
Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
Have you ever been to a hospital or institution on account of drinking?

if you answered as few as 3 of these questions with a Yes it is a definite sign that your drinking patterns are harmful and considered alcohol dependent or alcoholic.

Thank you Annette for sharing this. It is powerful. I'm the alcoholic who could answer "yes" to every question on the list yet still blamed it on anything and everything else.'s a powerful thing.


  1. I am a licensed Psychologist, and there is another self-reporting test, called the MAST (Michigan alcohol screening test). It is available free, online. If answered HONESTLY, with no minimization or rationalization, it can provide real insight to alcoholism as well.

  2. Thanks guccigirl. I was one of the people that requested Annette talk about alcohol abuse. I've looked at the information she posted as well as taken the MAST that you recommended. It really just confirmed what I already knew ... I'm an early to middle problem drinker. Now the hard part is deciding what to do about it.

  3. Hi Anonymous,
    I'm responding to your reply - I'm not a Psychologist, though I am in grad school for substance abuse counseling licensure. Additionally, I'm an alcoholic, and advocate alcoholics anonymous - for the pure fact that its what worked for me, and those with whom I have witnessed who have found sobriety.

    That said, "what to do about it" would be, in my very humble opinion, log onto your state's "Intergroup" - seek out the closest meeting - or in the next town if you're concerned with anonymity (which most newbies are) walk into that meeting and I will guarantee you that your life will change henceforth - assuming you do not leave without speaking to someone.
    Best of luck
    We do not accomplish sobriety alone - that much I can tell you

  4. Hi, Dawn --

    Can you explain why sobriety cannot be accomplished alone? I'm new to all this and don't understand that.

    Thanks --

  5. I have been sober for almost 3-1/2 years. I did it alone with the help of God. It was tough but prayer got me through. I know each one is different but AA was not for me. I tried it twice. Each time I went all I wanted to do was have a drink when I left. The people where I went were very clickish, vulgar in their talk, and not helpful. The women were almost cult like. I actually felt they resented me being there. In defense of AA I live in a small town with only one AA so I don't have anything else to compare it with. If AA works for you great. I just know I tried twice the best I knew how. I would try to talk with my sponsor only to be told "I only have a couple minutes" and it was obvious she did not care about my problems. If she didn't want to be my sponsor she should have told me. The AA I went to left a very bad impression with me and I honestly don't think I will ever drink again, but if I ever needed help I would get help somewhere besides AA. Again if you are one of the ones it helped I happy for you. But you have to be considerate of my experience also. I think the AA percentage of recovery speaks for itself.

  6. Thanks, Anonymous above. I live in a small town with only one AA as well, and the next nearest town with one is about 80 miles away. I did not like the people in my town's AA.

    Like you, I am working on my own with prayer. Thanks for letting me know it can be done.