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Alcohol Abuse: How to Recognize Problem Drinking

Am I drinking too much?
You are drinking too much if one of the following statements is true. You are:

  • A woman who has more than 7 drinks* per week or more than 3 drinks per occasion
  • A man who has more than 14 drinks* per week or more than 4 drinks per occasion
  • Older than 65 years of age and have more than 7 drinks* per week or more than 3 drinks per occasion

*One drink = one 12-oz bottle of beer (4.5 percent alcohol), one 5-oz glass of wine (12.9 percent alcohol) or 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Am I drinking heavily?
You are drinking heavily if one of the following statements is true. You are:

  • A woman who has more than 3 drinks every day or 21 drinks per week
  • A man who has more than 5 drinks every day or 35 drinks per week

Am I taking risks with alcohol?
You are taking risks with alcohol if one or more of the following statements are true. You:

  • Drink and drive, operate machinery or mix alcohol with over-the-counter or prescription medicine
  • Don’t tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are a regular drinker
  • Are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant and drink at all (even small amounts of alcohol may hurt an unborn child)
  • Drink alcohol while you are looking after children
  • Drink alcohol even though you have a medical condition that can be made worse by drinking

Has my drinking become a habit?

Your drinking has become a habit if you drink regularly to:
  • Relax, relieve anxiety or go to sleep
  • Be more comfortable in social situations
  • Avoid thinking about sad or unpleasant things
  • Socialize with other regular drinkers

Is alcohol taking over my life?

Yes, if you:
  • Ever worry about having enough alcohol for an evening or weekend
  • Hide alcohol or buy it at different stores so people will not know how much you are drinking
  • Switch from one kind of drink to another hoping that this will keep you from drinking too much or getting drunk
  • Try to get “extra” drinks at a social event or sneak drinks when others aren’t looking


Has drinking alcohol become a problem for me?

Alcohol has become a problem for you if one or more of the following statements are true. You:
  • Can’t stop drinking once you start
  • Have tried to stop drinking for a week or so but only quit for a few days
  • Fail to do what you should at work or at home because of drinking
  • Feel guilty after drinking
  • Find other people make comments to you about your drinking
  • Have a drink in the morning to get yourself going after drinking heavily the night before
  • Can’t remember what happened while you were drinking
  • Have hurt someone else as a result of your drinking


What can I do about drinking too much?

Try to cut down to safe drinking levels: fewer than 7 drinks per week and fewer than 3 drinks per occasion for women and men older than 65 years of age, and fewer than 14 drinks per week and fewer than 4 drinks per occasion for men younger than 65 years of age.


How can I get help for an alcohol problem?

If you feel you need help to cut down, you can contact: 

  • Your doctor for advice, treatment or referral
  • Self-help support groups (see “Other Organizations”)
  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (see “Other Organizations”). Call for information about local treatment programs and to speak to someone about your alcohol problem


 

Source:

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff.

Problem Drinking and Alcoholism: Diagnosis and Treatment by MA Enoch, M.D., M.R.C.G.P. and D Goldman, M.D. (American Family Physician February 1, 2002, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020201/441.html)

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 04/03

Original article: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/addictions/alcohol/755.html

 

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