Lots of people wonder if they drink too much. The CDC reports that in the United States, up to 50% of the population is considered a regular drinker. Only the drinker knows if this feels like a problem to them. A change in one’s drinking habits only happens when the drinker realizes that something’s gotta give and they feel an urge to make a change for themselves. People who drink excessively face many problems that can include: isolation, low self-esteem, depression, a lack of stable relationships, job loss, financial instability, health problems, estrangement from family, DUIs, arrests, accidents, and sometimes death. If you wonder if you drink too much, here are some good questions to ask yourself about your drinking…
The following text is taken directly from the 20 Questions pamphlet of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can print out the pamphlet here.
Are You an Alcoholic?
The list of questions, which follows, has helped a lot of people find where they stood with booze. But remember, you are the only one who can say if you have a problem or not. Even if you’ve been told you do, the important thing is that you decide for yourself. All we ask is that you try to be honest.
1. Did you lose time from work due to drinking?
2. Did drinking make your home life unhappy?
3. Did you drink because you were shy with people?
4. Has drinking affected your reputation?
5. Have you gotten into trouble with money because of your drinking?
6. Did you associate with people you didn’t respect and hang out in places you didn’t want to be in when drinking?
7. Did your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
8. Has your drinking decreased your ambition?
9. Did you want a drink “the morning after?”
10. Did you have a hard time sleeping because of your drinking?
11. Has your ability to work decreased since drinking?
12. Did drinking get you into trouble on the job or in business?
13. Did you drink to escape from problems or worries?
14. Did you drink alone?
15. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
16. Has a doctor ever treated you for drinking?
17. Did you drink to build up self-confidence?
18. Have you ever been arrested, locked up or hospitalized on account of your drinking?
19. Have you ever felt guilty after drinking?
20. Did you have to have a drink at a certain time each day?
If you answered “yes” to three or more questions, you may be an alcoholic. But remember, we in A.A. follow this program voluntarily. No one forces us to admit we are alcoholics. No one forces us to stay sober in A.A. We do it because we like what A.A. has to offer.
The above questions may stir up feelings of fear about your life or your drinking. If that’s the case, then do not hesitate to seek help. In my clinical work with addiction, I have seen many truly miraculous stories of recovery in the 12 step programs. Seek help here. If you feel drawn to Alcoholics Anonymous, this chapter from the “Big Book” may guide you to a better understanding of what you’re coping with.
Although the 12 step program tends to be the most popular, effective and affordable program for recovery, some people are fearful of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. They fear that they cannot relate to the spiritual paradigm, or that they will be overwhelmed by feelings of shame in the face of a group setting. The National Institute of Drug & Alcohol Abuse has great a start up guide that can direct you to other secular and harm-reduction based treatment models.