Is Your Drinking a Problem?


Donald A. Cadogan, Ph.D.

It is true that some people can drink alcohol moderately most of their lives and suffer no ill effects. But others find that moderation turns readily to excess and leads to personal disaster. Over time, these individuals lose complete control of their drinking and, eventually, of their lives.

The only way to successfully deal with a drinking problem, as many an alcoholic has discovered, is to stop drinking entirely. And the sooner this is realized the better the chances for full recovery.

But what is moderate drinking anyway? And how do we know when our moderate consumption has become excessive, or when our use of alcohol has become abuse? It is a very difficult question, especially for those who do drink too much, for when we develop this condition we really don't want to know the truth. Nevertheless, knowing that we have a drinking problem is the first step toward resolving it.

The following questionnaire, adapted largely from work done at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, can be helpful here. It is designed to focus your attention on problems typically seen in alcoholism. If your responses are similar to those of alcoholics and you continue to drink, you either are having, or eventually will have severe problems with alcohol.


Think carefully about the following questions. Your honest answers here could greatly improve your life. Keep track of your YES/NO responses to the following 20 questions. The score interpretation block at the bottom of this page can give you feedback on your drinking habits.

1. Does drinking sometimes interfere with your work, such as by causing you to lose work time, by making you less efficient, etc.?

2. Does your personality often change after drinking?

3. Do others sometimes show concern or occasionally nag you about your drinking?

4. Do you often drink to make yourself less shy or to bolster your self-confidence?

5. Does drinking sometimes cause you to disregard your family responsibilities?

6. Does drinking sometimes lead to financial difficulties?

7. Does your family ever complain that your drinking makes them unhappy or creates problems for them?

8. Do you ever crave a drink at certain times, such as when you come home from work, or the next morning, etc.?

9. Have you ever been medically or psychologically treated for drinking (including A.A.)?

10. Do you often drink alone?

11. Do you often use drink to escape from your troubles or worries?

12. Do you sometimes drink when you can't sleep or to try to help you sleep?

I3. Does drinking sometimes cause you to have difficulty sleeping or interfere with the restfulness of your sleep?

14. Do you sometimes feel guilty or remorseful after drinking?

15. Have you ever had a blackout or a loss of memory for time while you were drinking?

16. Do you sometimes have the shakes after drinking?

17. Have you ever had convulsions after drinking or when you had stopped for a short time?

18. Do you sometimes promise yourself to slow down or to stop drinking, but find you succeed for only a few weeks?

19. Have you ever changed from one kind of drink to another, such as from whisky to beer, in an effort to remain in control of your behavior or to avoid getting drunk?

20. Have you ever resolved to stop after having a few drinks and found that sometimes you could, but sometimes you did not?


If you answered yes to only one question take it as a warning.

If you answered yes to two questions you may have a drinking problem and you may need to review your drinking habits.

If you answered yes to three or more questions you probably have a serious drinking problem and you probably need help.

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