Am I an alcoholic or addict?
Many people want to know whether they (or their partner) are alcoholics. It’s a crucial question for those of us whose lives or relationships are way off track. Yet it’s frustrating to get a satisfying answer-After all there is no blood test. So how can you tell?
Today’s your lucky day because I’m going to help. Ok, here we go. Take a deep breath.
The four correlates that determine alcoholism or addiction.
The best method to determine alcoholism is to break down and examine the strong correlations between alcohol and four key areas of life. Here’s how it works. Take a look at the list below:
- Careers (or schooling).
- Health (both physical and mental).
If you take an honest look at these four categories and whether there is deterioration in one or more of these key life areas, then you will know if you are an alcoholic.
So here’s the trick–The only way we really know is by looking at the consequences that accompany drinking. To say it another way, being an alcoholic doesn’t have to do with the number of beers one drinks but instead with the gravity of the consequences that occur when one is drinking.
When clients request an Alcoholism Assessment, I put them through this simple exercise. We examine these Four Key Areas and determine if there is a strong correlation between any of them and their negative behaviors or consequences.
1-Relationships: Is there a direct correlation between your drinking and deterioration in your relationships with your partner, family, children, friends, neighbors and co-workers?
2-Careers: Is there a correlation between you drinking and not living up to your potential at work (or school)? More specifically, have you been losing jobs, not getting promotions or are you constantly being fired? Are you school grades not close to what they should be?
3-Health: Are you often depressed or angry? Do you have panic attacks? Do you have lots of physical injuries (falling down/broken arm) or are you often sick? Lots of flu or colds?
4-Money: Do you spend WAY more on alcohol (or drugs) than you intend to or have in your budget?
And here is the scoring system: If you have a strong correlation between alcohol and one of these areas you might have a problem. If you score a correlation in two areas you probably are an alcoholic.
If you have 3 or 4 correlations; you’re probably (or will soon be) in crisis. There really is no such thing as a “functional alcoholic”. If you’re functioning “poorly” then you CAN’T handle alcohol–period. I know it’s a bummer but you’re not alone. Actually, 17% of the adult population are either alcoholics or addicts. So if you’re in the 83% of the populations which is composed of normal drinkers; congratulations. If you are not, or if you are not sure…it may be time to get some advice.
Common behaviors and/or personality characteristics of alcoholics (and addicts).
- Lying, lying, lying.
- Impaired control.
- Pre-occupation with alcohol and/or drugs.
- Drinking despite adverse consequences.
- Distorted thinking (most notably denial).
- Always running late, cutting corners, trying to pay in cash.
- Blaming others and not taking responsibility for their actions.
- Manipulating situations and people to get what you want.
- Excessive consequences (DUIs, injuries, lost jobs & failing relationships).
- Binge drinking and blackouts.
- Ethical deterioration.
- Grandiosity, aggressiveness and violent behaviors.
- Drinking or using alone.
- Losing friends or changing friendship groups to “lesser companions”.
- No longer show up for important couple’s/family activities such as weddings, graduations, kids sports games, recitals and even funerals.
- Protecting your supply of alcohol (or drugs).
- Having hangovers and withdrawal symptoms.
- Neglecting other people needs.
- Neglecting your own needs such as eating and grooming.
So there you have it. The answer to the big question…”Am I an alcoholic or addict?”
I hope this helped. If you think you might have a problem and need to figure out your next steps…I can help. Visit my website and don’t hesitate to contact me at: addictioncouplestherapy.com
Goodbye for now.
–Max Yusim, LCSW
Addiction and Couple’s Therapy Expert