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Are You an Alcoholic – The Questions an Expert Would Ask

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Diagnosing alcoholism is similar to diagnosing any other disease. A clinical professional is trained to look for certain signs and symptoms that would indicate alcoholism is present. For example, the person being examined would be asked about his or her drinking habits on a daily and weekly basis. The entire selection of questions and answers, combined with the observance of any physical symptoms, ultimately determines whether alcoholism is the correct diagnosis.

Our question for you is this: are you an alcoholic? If you do not know, perhaps it is time to undergo a professional examination to figure things out. Any drinking problem is a problem that can eventually become alcoholism if left untreated. So if you are concerned, now is the time to do something about it.

You can contact us on our 24-hour helpline to receive a free and comprehensive alcohol assessment. Our assessments are based on the Alcohol Dependency Scale and a series of questions related to it. In fact, we ask the same questions that a doctor would ask you. Every answer you provide would be graded on a scale of 0 to 4, with zero being 'never' and four being either 'daily or almost daily' or another answer as dictated by the particular question.

Are you an alcoholic? Let's have a look at the questions an expert would ask you during an examination:

1. How often have you consumed more than eight units of alcohol (male) or six units of alcohol (female), on a single occasion, within the last year?

One unit is measured as 10 ml of pure alcohol. The typical glass of wine or a pint of beer contains about one unit of alcohol. For the record, this is usually the first question asked. How it is answered determines the course of the rest of the examination.

2. How often in the last year have you failed to meet required expectations at work, school, etc. due to your drinking?

Both problem drinkers and alcoholics tend to lose any sense of responsibility, thereby affecting their performance and preventing them from meeting expectations.

3. How often in the last year have been unable to remember events that happened while you were under the influence of alcohol?

4. Has a family member, friend, or healthcare professional shown concern about your drinking and suggested you cut down in the last year?

Often, family members and friends can spot signs of alcoholism long before the drinker can.

5. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?

As alcoholism progresses, it is normal for the drinker to prefer alcoholic beverages over non-alcoholic. Alcohol eventually becomes the only thing the alcoholic drinks.

6. How many units of alcohol do you typically drink in a day, when you are drinking?

Late-stage alcohol abusers and early-stage alcoholics may not necessarily drink every day. This is especially true among high functioning alcoholics. In such a case, it is important to know how much is consumed on days when the person is drinking.

7. How often during the last year have you found yourself unable to stop drinking, even when you wanted to?

One of the main symptoms of alcoholism is dependence. Dependence is both a physical and psychological condition that prevents the alcoholic from stopping. It creates compulsive behaviour that compels the alcoholic to continue drinking when he or she knows he/she should not.

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8. How often in the last year have you found yourself needing a drink first thing in the morning to get going after a session of drinking the night before?

Alcoholism is a condition that carries with it certain withdrawal symptoms that begin presenting between drinking sessions. Needing a drink to get yourself started in the morning is a sign that your body might be in withdrawal from the alcohol consumed the night before.

9. How often during the last year has your drinking behaviour caused feelings of guilt or remorse?

Alcoholics often feel guilty about what they are doing. This causes them to withdraw from family and friends, avoid social gatherings, and otherwise isolate themselves. Guilt and remorse also cause alcoholics to hide their alcohol in various places around the house or at work.

10. Have you or someone else ever been physically injured due to your drinking behaviour?

Alcoholics tend to be more willing to engage in risky behaviour – especially while under the influence of alcohol. It is not uncommon for alcoholics to hurt themselves and others as a result of taking unnecessary risks.

Analysing Your Score

Are you an alcoholic based on these questions? If you were to be examined by a professional, that individual would tally the score of all your answers. Remember, your answers are rated from 0 to 4. Also, bear in mind that the first four questions in this list are part of what is known as the FAST test. Your score on the FAST questions determines whether or not your doctor needs to ask the remaining six.

Here is how the test is rated:

Questions 1 through 4

A score of 0-2 on the first question instructs the clinician to continue with the FAST portion of the test, asking questions three through four. A score of 3 or higher indicates the risk of alcoholism is high; it dictates the clinician skip questions three through four and immediately jump to question five.

Questions 5 through 10

Questions 5 through 10 are known as the AUDIT portion of the test. If the clinician begins asking you these questions, the chances are good that you may already be an alcoholic or at least on your way to developing the condition. Your doctor will be considering the following scores to evaluate your risk:

  • 0 to 7 = lower risk
  • 8 to 15 = increasing risk
  • 16 to 19 = higher risk
  • 20+ = possible dependence.

Please understand that being at risk of alcoholism does not necessarily mean you are an alcoholic. Even a score of 20 or greater is not necessarily definitive. These questions are designed to be a general guideline that tells the professional how to proceed. Having said that, a higher score does increase the likelihood that you are dependent on alcohol.

Are you an alcoholic? The only way to know for sure is to undergo a comprehensive assessment conducted by a trained professional. We can conduct an assessment for you if you are willing to call our 24-hour helpline. Should your score indicate a serious drinking problem, we can offer you advice on treatment options throughout the UK. We can even refer you to a treatment clinic if you are ready to get help.

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