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Alcohol Dependence Scale – Gauge Your Level of Alcoholism

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Do you consume more than one or two alcoholic beverages every week? Are you the kind of person who stays away from drinking during the week, only two spend the weekends drinking excessively? If you answered either of these questions positively, you might have a drinking problem of some sort. This does not necessarily mean you are an alcoholic or late stage alcohol abuser, but you could be in the early stages of problem drinking. We in the recovery community are able to measure the severity of such problems using something known as the 'alcohol dependence scale'.

The scale goes hand-in-hand with the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire developed by the Addiction Research Unit at the Maudsley Hospital in London. The questionnaire involves 20 questions that are each assigned a score based on the individual's answer. The higher the total score, the more serious the alcohol problem in question.

We have an app on our site that conducts an online assessment based on the alcohol dependence scale and questionnaire. Alternatively, you can call and speak to one of the counsellors at our 24-hour helpline. They are trained in how to use the dependence scale and questionnaire to help you determine how serious your drinking problem might be.

3 Kinds of Drinking Problems

Established guidelines from the government dictate that adult men should not consume more than three units of alcohol per day; women should not exceed two units per day. Those guidelines were revised with new recommendations in early 2016 suggesting that both men and women should limit their alcohol intake to no more than 14 units per week. Fourteen units would be equal to about seven glasses of wine or six pints of beer.

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If your alcohol consumption exceeds these recommended limits, you may already have a drinking problem. There are three kinds of drinking problems generally recognised by the medical community. These are:

  • Problem Drinking – A problem drinker consumes more than the recommended safe levels of alcohol but does not routinely binge drink or purposely get drunk. A problem drinker may consume alcohol on a daily basis or confine his or her drinking to the weekends.
  • Alcohol Abuse – The alcohol abuser who routinely exceeds safe levels of drinking as a matter of course. An abuser is also likely to binge drink more than once every couple of months; he or she tends to get drunk more often now than in the past.
  • Alcoholic – An alcoholic is someone who is addicted to alcohol. Alcohol controls this kind of drinker to the extent that drinking is a routine part of almost every activity. The most severe alcoholics begin drinking the moment they wake up and continue to do so throughout the day.

Please note that there is plenty of overlap between the three different kinds of drinking problems. The point of the alcohol dependence scale is not necessarily to label a patient according to one of the three classifications but to help determine how far along an individual is toward developing a legitimate addiction. Once a person reaches a state of alcoholism, addiction has been firmly established. The only way to overcome is through professional treatment.

Knowing Is Only the Start

The fact that you are visiting our website suggests that you are either cognisant of your drinking problem or you are concerned about a loved one. In either case, we hope you will take advantage of our alcohol dependence scale app or call our 24-hour helpline to speak with a counsellor. You need to know the seriousness of your problem in order to know what to do next.

We hope you understand that knowing where you fall on the scale is only the start. Any measurement that puts you over and above a casual drinker is reason to act. Remember that alcoholism is not something that occurs overnight. It is a long process that begins with casual drinking.

If the alcohol dependence scale shows you as a problem drinker, now is the time to get the treatment you need to prevent your problem from getting worse. Problem drinking is the easiest of the three to overcome. Yet leaving it untreated can cause you to easily progress to alcohol abuse, especially if you find yourself going through some especially stressful circumstances in the future.

If our assessment shows that you are an alcohol abuser, consider this: you are but one step away from full-blown alcoholism. Problem drinking is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment from professionals. You can make an appointment to see your GP or contact us for free advice and referrals. Depending on how far along you are, you may be an ideal candidate for a prescription medication and counselling.

Finally, just as problem drinking can easily become alcohol abuse if left untreated, ignoring alcohol abuse almost always leads to alcoholism. Trust us when we say this is not somewhere you want to go. Full-blown alcoholism is an addiction that is just as serious as an addiction to heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Failing to get treatment could cost you everything that is near and dear to you – including your family, your health, and even your life.

Helping You Find Treatment

As an independent advice and referral organisation, we do more than just provide assessments based on the alcohol dependence scale. We also maintain an up-to-date database of UK treatment providers. We work with private clinics, counsellors, alcohol charities and even NHS based programmes in order to find our clients the best possible treatments out there.

When you call our 24-hour helpline, we will walk you through the alcohol abuse questionnaire to determine where you fall on the scale. Our sincere hope is that your problem is as minor as it can be. But in the event it is not, we will also walk you through the full range of treatment options available in your area.

Ultimately, you will have the option to choose if, where, and when you will seek treatment. We will not attempt to force you or coerce your cooperation in any way. If you want to get well, we can help make it happen. Please note that all of our services are completely confidential and absolutely free.

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