You might find yourself asking the question, “am I an alcoholic?” or “am I just a casual drinker?” It’s a common misconception that alcoholism is defined by being homeless, and drinking out a brown bag under a bridge.
The truth is, alcoholism comes in many forms. So for those asking “am I an alcoholic,” there are some tell-tale signs and symptoms of being an alcoholic. While these symptoms vary from person to person, many of these are common amongst most alcoholics.
Top Ten Warning Signs Of An Alcoholic:
- Drinking alone and in secrecy
- Losing interest in other activities that were once enjoyable
- Alcohol cravings
- Making drinking a priority over responsibilities, such as employment and family
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (sweating, anxiety, etc.)
- Extreme mood swings and irritability
- Feelings of guilt associated with drinking
- Having a drink first thing in the morning
- Continuing to drink, despite health, financial and family problems
- Inability to stop or control the amount of alcohol that’s consumed
The biggest tell tale sign showing the difference between a casual drinker or even a heavy drinker and alcoholic is that an alcoholic will continue drinking even after facing consequences. Some consequences that an alcoholic will come to face are:
- Driving Under The Influence (DUI or DWI) charges
- Other legal troubles involving alcohol ie. Public intoxication
- Troubles maintaining healthy realtionships with family and friends
- Getting fired from a job
There are also several screening tests that you can take to get a better understanding of where you fall on the alcoholism spectrum. Only you can truly answer the “am I an alcoholic” question, but many experienced clinicians have come up with the following assesments to make the decision easier.
CAGE Alcohol Assessment Quiz
The following are only yes or no questions.
1. Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your drinking?
2. Have people annoyed you by criticzing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to calm your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
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CAGE Questionnaire Scoring
Each response to the four alcohol assessment questions is scored, either 0 or 1 point. Responses determine the percentage of the probability of alcoholism, ranging to 95 percent. Higher scores indicate a potential problem with alcohol. While a total score of 2 or higher is considered clinically significant, some clinicians, such as John Hopkins, believe a score of 1 is worth a further evaluation. According to JAMA: “A score of 2 to 3 indicates a high index of suspicion and a score of 4 is virtually diagnostic for alcoholism.”
The CAGE questionnaire score is only the first step in diagnosing alcoholism. Regardless of what the score is, it is NOT an official diagnosis, which can only be made by a licensed professional. If your CAGE score is 1 or higher, you may want to consider additional assessment options, which are listed below.
Clinical Significance of the CAGE Test
Although the CAGE online alcohol assessment is brief, its results have been shown to identify 9 out of 10 alcoholics, and 93 percent of individuals who drink in excess, according to this research study. The CAGE questions, which take less than a minute to answer, have been considered as a tool for screening high-risk groups, and may be used in self-assessment to identify the need for further follow up and assistance. Since its development in the 1960s, thousands of professionals in the alcohol addiction field have used the CAGE test questions as a means of treating men and women struggling with alcoholism.
The CAGE alcohol assessment is one of the most widely used, valid, confirmed and reliable alcohol assessment tools with high levels of sensitivity and specificity. When taking an alcohol assessment online, it’s important to be completely honest in your responses. This will help determine if further evaluation is needed.
Why the CAGE Test Works
Alcoholism is a disease, and it can be difficult for some people to accept. In many cases, it’s easier to digest the full diagnosis if it begins with something on a smaller scale, such as the results of an online quiz about alcohol. The CAGE alcohol screening includes only four questions because they have been proven to be sufficient in identifying an alcoholic more than 90 percent of the time. All four CAGE assessment questions are carefully crafted to address the most common characteristics associated with alcoholism. They encourage self-reflection from the person drinking, and provoke consideration of external factors, such as the reactions of loved ones on the outside looking in