How do you know if you are an alcoholic? Most of us aren’t surrounded by people who will come up to as and tell us. Many of us find out way too late, after the damage has been done. What are the signs of alcoholism and how is it different from just being a “partier” or “social drinker”?

There are many different diagnostic tools used to diagnose alcoholism. In reality, though, they are very vague guidelines and don’t apply to all types of alcoholics. Someone who reveals themself to be an alcoholic on one test may not do so on another test.

The CAGE test (CAGE is an acronym for “Cut”, “Annoyed”, “Guilty”, and “Eye Opener”) is a four question test used to assess possible alcoholic tendencies. The questions are:

A – Do you feel the need to cut down on consumption?

B – Are you annoyed when asked about your drinking?

C – Does your alcohol usage make you feel guilty?

D – Have you ever had a “hair of the dog” (an eye opener) to recover from a hangover?

Answering yes to any of these questions is a sign of potential alcoholism.

Another common test for alcoholism is answering yes to any of the following questions:

A – Do you crave alcohol?

B – Do you lose control when drinking?

C – Do you have a physical dependence?

D – Has your tolerance increased?

Other tests for alcoholism commonly ask the following questions:

A – Do you experience lapses of time (blackouts)?

B – Are you drinking because of unhappiness or shyness?

C – Is your reputation or job at stake?

D – Do you drink in the morning?

E – Do you drink alone?

F – Have you jeopardized yours or someone else’s welfare due to alcohol?

G – Does drinking help your self-confidence?

H – Have you ever been hospitalized or in jail because of a drinking-related incident?

Had someone put these tests in front of me in the latter days of my drinking career, there is no doubt what the answers would have been. Yes, I had been injured, my reputation was at stake, I had lost jobs or money, blacked out, drank to reduce the effects of a hangover, and used alcohol to mask shyness. All of the above, that was me. But I never saw these tests. No one had brought it to my attention, and until the very day I quit drinking, I never thought I had an issue. I imagine many people are in the same boat. Drinking is fun, it is just part of socializing, it makes you more likeable and more fun to be around. Hangovers and a little danger just come with the territory, right?