How to Self-Diagnose an Alcohol Addiction
The new year made me realize it would be a good idea to write about how to self-diagnose an alcohol addiction. While only a professional can make a formal diagnosis, awareness of your drinking habits and any problems that arise from drinking can help you seek treatment (Identifying and Diagnosing Alcoholism). Here's how to self-diagnose an alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Addiction Self-Diagnosis Steps
Acknowledge You May Have a Problem with Alcohol Addiction
The first step towards self-diagnosing an alcohol addiction is acknowledging you may have a problem. I would go so far as to say if you're asking if you have a problem, you probably do--normal people don't wonder whether or not they drink too much. Normal people don't drink to get drunk. Normal people can set limits. Normal people don't lose control.
When I first became aware of my alcohol addiction, I realized that I usually could have one or two drinks and be fine, but that once or twice a month, I lost control and got drunk (Binge Drinking and Blackout Binge Eating). Whether I have an alcohol abuse disorder or am an alcoholic does not matter--the fact is I lost control far too frequently. For me, abstinence is the only option.
And chances are it's the same for you. The line between alcohol abuse and alcoholism is thin and blurry at best. You have to decide what's right for you. And that may include complete abstinence. If you can't do this without help, then you have a problem. That doesn't make you a bad person, just a sick one. And the good news is there's a way to fight back--several ways, actually. You can get involved in a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) or Celebrate Recovery. You can go on medication to treat the problem you were probably using alcohol to self-medicate. You can even go on medication to help you with your substance abuse. You can start therapy to look at your substance abuse issue. There are many ways to recover. But they all start by acknowledging you may have a problem with alcohol addiction.
Take an Alcohol Addiction Online Screening Test
There are several good online screenings that can give you guidance when determining if your drinking is out of control, including some here at HealthyPlace, such as the CAGE Test (Cutting Back, Annoyed, Guilt, Eye-Opener) and the AUDIT Screening (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). These tests are easy to understand and look at your drinking over the past several however long it's been--in my case, years. While only a doctor or a qualified mental health professional can make a formal diagnosis, these tests can help you realize if there's cause for concern. These tests are anonymous, but you can print the results to show to your doctor or therapist.
Sometimes colleges and universities offer substance abuse screenings as free events. If you're not comfortable with that, it's okay. The important thing is that you get a diagnosis and treatment, and this is simply one way to do it. Again, online screenings are easy to find, and you can print up the results to discuss with a professional. The important thing is what happens after you get the alcohol addiction self-diagnosis screening results. You can make a decision as to whether or not to act on the results and get help. And take it from me, it's a heck of a lot easier to get help yourself before a court orders you to do it.
Sit Through at Least One 12-Step Meeting
I still remember my first A.A. meeting--I didn't identify with anyone, so I assumed I didn't have a problem. Maybe if I'd actually paid attention I could have saved myself years of grief. I was drinking to self-medicate and hadn't hit my bottom yet. So it may come as a surprise that I recommend sitting through at least one 12-step meeting. The reason I recommend that is because there are only so many alcohol stories--and if you do indeed have a problem, you'll hear yours at a 12-step meeting.
It's becoming more acceptable in A.A.--or at least the meeting I attend--to admit you have a mental illness driving your substance abuse (Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse Plus A Mental Illness). Official A.A. literature acknowledges that some people have a chemical imbalance and drink to self-medicate and states that it's okay to take medication for that problem as long as you don't become addicted to it. I personally don't see it as any different than taking insulin for diabetes. We don't say the person with diabetes is addicted to insulin, needs to cut back on sugar, or just needs more faith. We acknowledge they have a disease and are responsible for taking steps to manage it. A mental illness with a substance abuse problem is no different.
So those are ways to self-diagnose an alcohol addiction. What worked to help you realize you had an alcohol addiction? Leave a message in the comments.
Oberg, B. (2017, January 9). How to Self-Diagnose an Alcohol Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2017/01/how-to-self-diagnose-an-alcohol-addiction