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Clearing the uncertainty

      It is a difficult thing to determine when heavy drinking slips over into alcoholism.

      It is a very tricky thing for the alcoholic because a self-deception process sets in when the alcoholism takes hold. This same denial takes hold of the loved ones of the alcoholic. Everyone keeps thinking and hoping that every over-indulgence will be the last and that things will get better.

      Because of this tendency toward self-deception, it is well to have some precise information about what are the borderline danger signals. One danger signal would be repeatedly drinking more than you intend to – and getting drunk even once at an inappropriate time would be a cause for concern.

      Getting more precise, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism developed a 10-question test to find out what kind of drinker you are. The only ones who would really know the answers would be the drinkers themselves because most of them involve inner attitudes.

      The questions (answer yes or no):

      1.       Do you think about drinking often?

      2.       Do you drink more now than you used to?

      3.       Do you sometimes gulp drinks or drink shots?

      4.       Do you often take a drink to relax?

      5.       Do you drink when you are alone?

      6.       Do you sometimes forget what happened when you were drinking?

      7.       Do you keep a bottle hidden somewhere, at home or work?

      8.       Do you need a drink to have fun?

      9.       Do you ever start drinking without really thinking about it?

      10.   Do you drink in the morning? Often to relieve a hangover.

      According to this test, if you have five or more “yes” answers, you may be one of the more than 20 million Americans with a drinking problem.

      The alcohol researchers devise this and other, similar tests based on symptoms and danger signals that have appeared in the histories of thousands of cases of alcoholism. It is a valid test that is very accurate.

      In this case, though, self-deception can prevent a person from looking honestly at the situation. Thinking that what they are doing is normal, they continue the downward spiral.  A troubled individual may not answer the questions with complete candor, or if he does and it shows symptoms of trouble, he may reject it, saying it doesn’t apply.

      But an honest look at the drinking if it is a cause for concern (and it always is to some degree in alcoholics) can help clear the uncertainty as to whether a person has gone over the line into alcoholism.

      It may be a painful look, but it can prevent far greater pain later on.

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