Your nightly glass of wine has, over time, become half a bottle or more. You tend to drink frequently, going out at night and ordering several beers or shots, but you tell yourself that it’s fine, that you have a handle on it. Or you open your cabinet one night and realize there are no more liquor bottles inside of it, and you feel a sense of panic overtaking you.
For some people, it can be hard to tell when casual, recreational drinking becomes much worse. Alcoholism is an insidious and deadly disease—you might not realize you have a problem until your drinking has advanced to the point of dependency, or even addiction. Alcoholism can wreak havoc on your life and your health, and it can be fatal—in just the years 2006 to 2010 alone, there were about 88,000 deaths per year due to excessive drinking, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why it’s crucial to take an alcoholism assessment.
Am I an Alcoholic?
According to the CDC, it’s typically OK for women to have up to one glass of alcohol per day, while men can have up to two glasses. (A drink, in this case, amounts to a 12-ounce glass of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 8 ounces of malt liquor or 1.5 ounces of liquor or spirits.)
The numbers go up significantly for what is termed excessive drinking: more than eight servings of alcohol per week for women or more than 15 servings for men. There is also a separate category for binge drinking, which is defined as consuming four or more drinks at once for women, or five or more for men. If you tally up the number of drinks you consume and it reaches the level of binge or excessive drinking, that could be a sign of a bigger problem.
It’s not easy to formally define alcoholism, but it has both a physical and a mental/emotional component. In other words, an alcoholic will have both a strong physical craving for alcohol, and what feels like an uncontrollable need to give in to that craving—often at very inopportune times. If you are an alcoholic, you may not know it. And even if you know you have a problem, it is very likely that you don’t know how to stop drinking.
You also may wonder, “Am I an alcoholic,” if you find you simply can’t get through the day without a drink, either because you have a physical craving or because you brain is telling you that you must have alcohol in order to function. This can be a sign of dependency, or what is also called alcohol use disorder.
You may have been able to convince yourself that you don’t have a drinking problem; like many people, you may have become adept at hiding the signs of alcoholism from friends and family. Eventually, however, the problem will intensify and worsen, to the point that it can destroy your health, as well as your relationships, career and the pursuits that used to give you happiness.
There are, of course, telltale signs of alcohol use disorder that are physically evident. The most common:
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Poor balance
- Slow or erratic breathing
- The inability to stand or walk straight
- Slurred or loud speech
Alcoholism can also negatively affect your mood. You may experience mood swings, depression, risky behavior due to lack of inhibitions and violent behavior. These short-term physical and psychological changes can turn into severe, long-term issues, including:
- Memory loss
- Chronic depression and anxiety
- High risk of certain cancers (mouth, throat, liver, colon, esophagus and breast)
- Liver disease
- Cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke)
- Digestive issues
If you are experiencing any of these issues, the best thing you could do for yourself would be to take an alcohol abuse assessment. The questions on our assessment are designed to give you more insight and information into your alcohol consumption and whether you need to seek treatment. Take that first step by taking our assessment today.