Am I an Alcoholic? Determining if You Have a Drinking Problem

A drunk man sititing in the coach holding a glass agains his forehead with a bottle of liquor
September 2, 2014
|   Updated:
October 26, 2023

If you are wondering if you have an alcohol problem, you probably do. This doesn’t mean you are an alcoholic, but that alcohol is in some way negatively affecting your life. If someone you know says you have an alcohol problem, this can be accurate or inaccurate, depending on the motivation. If you are truly unsure whether you have a problem or not, the following assessments can help.

Trying to Cut Back on Your Drinking

People who have become dependent on alcohol have a difficult time addressing their drinking problem. This is because the body has started to crave the drug and incorrectly feels that it “needs” alcohol to function. Do you find yourself unable to cut back on your drinking, even when you want to, for a sustained period of time?

Reviewing Your Legal History

A lot of people with alcohol problems have arrests related to their drinking. These crimes are not limited to DUIs, but can also include public intoxication, trespassing and property crimes, assault, and petty theft. Do you have a record such as this, with crimes committed while you are under the influence, or have you committed such violations and gotten away with them?

Logging Significant Cravings

Many problem drinkers and alcoholics feel the need to drink alcohol as soon as they get up in the morning. Some rationalize it is a way to cure a hangover or take the edge off. In reality, it is the body’s way to try to block withdrawal symptoms, such as sweats or shaking, after an absence of alcohol while you are sleeping. Do you have these morning cravings frequently?

Assessing Your Drinking Behaviors

Do you find yourself drinking so much that you black out and cannot remember things you did or said? Do you regularly make excuses for your drinking (such as it is someone’s birthday or it’s the anniversary of the day you and your friend first met) Do you try to hide the amount you drink from close friends and family? Do you often drink alone?

Reviewing Why You Drink

Are you often depressed or anxious before you start to drink or does the shame of your drinking lead you to want to drink more? It can be concerning if you use drinking as an escape to avoid certain aspects of your life and perhaps start looking into alcohol recovery.

Looking at Your History

Have others in your family struggled with drinking problems, even if they were never labeled alcoholics? Issues with addictive behaviors do have some genetic components, so relatives with drinking problems may have put you at a greater risk.

Reviewing the Consequences

The definition of addiction is a compulsion to use a drug despite negative consequences. Take a look at the effect your alcohol use has on your life. Is it causing you problems at work or school, in personal relationships, or with your family? Are you having health issues due to your drinking, whether they be injuries due to stumbles or more severe problems?

If you still aren’t sure how your drinking is affecting your life, seek help from an outside source, such as a trusted friend, a physician, or a counselor. Recovery treatment centers also have trained professionals that can help you assess your consumption and lifestyle. If you decide that your drinking is a problem, these people can help you determine what your next steps should be.

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