Alcohol Awareness: How To Recognize if You Have a Problem

Alcohol Awareness | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Alcohol Awareness: How To Recognize if You Have a Problem

April is officially Alcohol Awareness Month, organized annually since 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The goal is to address issues relating to alcohol through campaigns, media, and events. According to the website:

Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment and recovery. It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus, make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.

Alcohol abuse is one of the most underrated issues we face today In the United States. But alcohol is legal in most areas, easy to obtain, and part of a bigger culture which condones its use.

So how do you know if you have a problem? You may have told by family and friends you should cut back or quit, but doing a self-assessment can also be a great tool to get started.


CAGE is an acronym which stands for Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye Opener. Every letter of the acronym stands for a question, as detailed here:

C – Cut Down

Have you tried to cut down on alcohol? If you say yes, then you know at one point you believed you were drinking too much. Definitely a sign of alcohol abuse.

A – Annoyed

Have you annoyed others with your drinking problem? This could include risky behavior, obnoxiousness, aggressiveness, or any wealth of problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. If others are reacting negatively to your drinking, that is another sign you have a problem.

G – Guilty

Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking behavior? Have you felt bad about yourself the next day? Have you done something that you regret? If so, that’s probably an indication that you have abused alcohol.

E – Eye Opener

Do you drink when you first open your eyes in the morning? This is a real tough one, because if you are going for a drink first thing as a “hair of the dog” or to simply feed your addiction, you likely suffer from a serious case of alcoholism.

Even one “yes” answer indicates some form of alcohol abuse, but answering yes to 3 or 4 of these questions definitely points to addiction.

Other Signs and Symptoms

  • Frequent hangovers, having withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and shakiness
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
  • Lying about or hiding drinking
  • Drinking to relax or feel better
  • Blackout (memory lapses)
  • Finding it difficult or impossible to stop drinking after starting
  • Drinking in situations that are inappropriate (i.e. before work or while driving)
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol
  • Family and relationship difficulties due to alcohol consumption

You can also take a more extensive self-assessment at the NCADD’s website.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related: U of M Reports Drug & Alcohol Use Down Among Teens

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