For many people, it’s not easy to figure out the line between normal drinking and problem drinking. Drinking alcohol is highly ingrained in our culture and abuse of alcohol can sneak up on people without their knowing. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of alcohol abuse and take steps to cut back on drinking when it becomes a problem.
Medical professionals use a simple test called the CAGE Questionnaire to determine whether someone has a problem with alcohol. You can take this quick test below.
The CAGE Questionnaire
- Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
If you have two “yes” responses to the questions above you should be evaluated further for an alcohol dependency problem.
An Increasing Problem: Binge Drinking
A growing concern across the country is binge drinking, especially among young people. Binge drinking is defined as a female consuming four or more drinks on a single occasion and a man consuming five or more. Binge drinking has been known to lead to a host of serious problems, everything from car accidents to domestic problems. It has also been linked to serious health issues including liver disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. It is believed that excessive alcohol consumption leads to approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the United States. Binge drinking can also cause neurological impairment, among young people especially. This is because the brain is still developing during adolescence and excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on learning and memory.
How to Get Help
If you believe you have developed a drinking problem it’s important to reach out for help. Your primary care doctor is a great place to start. You can also call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service available at (800) 662-HELP. This service can provide you with information about treatment programs in your local community and allow you to speak with someone knowledgeable about alcohol problems.
How much drinking is too much?
For healthy adults in general, drinking more than these single-day or weekly limits is considered “at-risk” or “heavy” drinking:
Men: More than 4 drinks per day (or 14 per week)
Women: More than 3 drinks per day (or 7 per week)
About one in four people who exceed these limits already has an alcohol use disorder, and the rest are at bigger risk of developing these and other problems. Keep in mind that people can have problems drinking less than the amounts shown above, particularly if they drink too quickly.