The best way to determine if a person is an alcoholic is to try to go without alcohol for 30 days. Abstaining for this long will be impossible for someone who is truly dependent on alcohol. This process can also address denial in an alcoholic directly.
More here on alcohol abuse vs. dependence and where to get help for an alcohol problem. Then, we invite your questions about drinking, setting boundaries with an alcoholic or how to deal with alcoholics at the end.
Alcoholism affects millions
Alcoholism is a devastating disease that affects millions of people very year. Despite the warnings and prevention campaigns, and the personal experiences individuals have with alcoholism in their lives, more people succumb to this addiction every year. Still, many people are inexperienced in detecting this disease, and many wonder how to tell if they’re an alcoholic.
Alcoholism is different from alcohol abuse. Someone who abuses alcohol may binge drink and experience the consequences of their alcohol consumption, such as getting in trouble with the law, getting sick, and making poor decisions. However, if the person is only an alcohol abuser and not an alcoholic, they can stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Even so, alcohol abuse can lead to many problems, including alcoholism.
Dependence on alcohol
Someone who is an alcoholic is physically dependent on the substance. Their body needs alcohol to function. Alcoholism is more than a battle of will, because not only is the person psychologically addicted to drinking, but their body experiences severe withdrawal symptoms if they go without a drink.
Even though alcoholism is widespread in the United States, many people are still unaware that they are addicted to alcohol; many others deny they have a problem. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has developed a questionnaire designed to help identify problem drinkers. An individual who is wondering how to tell if they are an alcoholic should visit NCADD’s website and take the test. Below are a few sample questions from the test.
1. Do you drink heavily when you are disappointed, under pressure or have had a quarrel with someone?
2. Can you handle more alcohol now than when you first started to drink?
3. Have you ever been unable to remember part of the previous evening, even though your friends say you didn’t pass out?
4. When drinking with other people, do you try to have a few extra drinks when others won’t know about it?
5. Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable if alcohol is not available?
Getting help for an alcohol problem
So where can you find help for an alcohol problem? And how can you help an alcoholic get help? When in doubt, an individual should consider consulting a mental health professional. Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are dangerous, and it is best to intervene early in order to ensure the fullest recovery. Medical and social professionals who deal with alcohol problems include:
- Medical Doctors – Addiction specialists
- Medical Doctors – Psychiatrists
- Social workers
Alcohol controls lives and devastates families. Detoxing from alcohol can be dangerous and should be done under the supervision of professionals. Residential treatment for alcoholism is often necessary, and should follow detox.
In order for someone to avoid relapsing back into addiction, they must first develop the tools necessary to live a sober life, and they will need to continue to work at their sobriety for a long time. Support groups like AA help connect the recovering alcoholic to others who can encourage them in their sobriety.