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How do I know if I’m an alcoholic

I don’t think you’re here by mere coincidence.  You probably have searched one of the tags on some search engine or you may have followed a link because you wonder whether or not your drinking habit is something to worry about and if you are an alcoholic.

This is not an easy question to answer.  It is a question that cannot be answered by anyone else but yourself.  There are different approaches you can use but they all start at the same place, honesty.  You have to be completely honest for a few minutes.  Honest only to yourself while you read on and evaluate if you comply to what is considered to be an alcoholic and if the program of Alcoholics Anonymous may be a solution for you.

The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ (the Big Book of A.A.) says that a real alcoholic is a person who at some stage in his or her drinking career began losing control over their liquor consumption.  Someone who is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydedoes absurd, incredible tragic things while drinking, is seldom mildly intoxicated.  Someone who can be a fine person in the world but could become disgustingly anti-social.

If a nerve has been struck, please read on.

The following block of text is from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 295 No. 17, May 3, 2006:

 

Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a […] pattern of drinking that includes the problems of alcohol abuse plus persistent drinking in spite of obvious physical, mental, and social problems caused by alcohol. Also typical are (1) loss of control—inability to stop drinking once begun; (2) withdrawal symptoms (symptoms associated with stopping drinking such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety); and (3) tolerance (needing increased amounts of alcohol in order to feel drunk).

Dr. William D. Silkworth, M.D. in a lengthy statement which is included in the Big Book describes two distinct manifestations which are present in alcoholics:

1.  A physical craving and

        2. A mental obsession.

About the physical craving the doctor writes:  [The alcoholic] cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving.  This phenomenon […] may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates [alcoholics], and sets them apart as a distinct entity.

With regard to the mental obsession the doctor writes:  Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol.  The sensation is so elusive [to the alcoholic] that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false.  To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.  They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see others taking with impunity.  After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again.  This is repeated over and over….

Should you have reached this point on the post and you recognize yourself somewhat in the above writing it may be a good time to have a little sit-down with yourself for some honest soul-searching.  At the bottom of this post I’ve placed some links to some folders from Alcoholics Anonymous.  The first one entitled “Is A.A. for you?” contains a short number of questions which can help you determine for yourself if A.A. is for you.  The other folders contain some useful information about what A.A. is and some of what it is not.  Please feel free to review them all in the privacy you deserve.  This is a sensitive topic but it is an important question which should get all the attention you can muster.

The other day I saw a useful video clip which contained the following questions:

1.  Does it annoy you when people criticize your drinking?

2.  Do you put yourself or others in danger while you are drinking?  e.g. Drinking and Driving?

3.  Do you find it hard to keep track of your money?

4.  Have you missed work (or school) because of a hangover?

5.  Do you find yourself planning your day around your drinking?

6.  Do you fight with loved ones because of your drinking?

7.  Do you find yourself drinking alone, or hiding while drinking?

8.  Do you find yourself drinking despite health problems?

9.  Do you feel guilty after drinking?

10. Do you find yourself making and breaking promises to quit drinking?  (promises to yourself or to others)

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions all I can say is:  Let’s get serious.  Examine the information and see if A.A. is for you.

 

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