Happy New Year!

My year is off to a stellar start, and I hope the same is true for you. For most of us, this is a truly joyous time of celebration. Many mark the passing of the year with care-free toasts and the occasional alcoholic refreshment.

two women talking while holding drinking glasses
Photo by Michael Discenza / Unsplash

If you're one of these "normal" people - congratulations! If, however, you're struggling with your drinking, read on.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) describes Alcoholism as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD.)

To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

To assess whether you or loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you, or has a loved one:

  1. Ended up drinking more than intended?
  2. Tried to stop or cut down on drinking and found you (or they) couldn't?
  3. Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the after effects?
  4. Experienced craving — a definite need, or urge, to drink?
  5. Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of the home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  6. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with family or friends?
  7. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to drink?
  8. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  9. Continued to drink even though it was causing feelings of depression or anxiety or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  10. Had to drink much more than previously necessary to get the desired effect? Or found that the usual number of drinks had much less impact than before?
  11. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating set in? Or sensed things that were not there?

Answering yes to one of these questions alone is not likely to be an indication of a significant issue. Two or more in combination however, can be a sign that you've got a problem with drinking. I'll never attempt to diagnose anyone but if your drinking is causing consequences, it helped me to know that there are solutions that can help.

Alcoholism shouldn't be taken lightly. Millions suffer and even die from this deadly,  progressive disease. If you or a loved one are experiencing, you're not alone, and there are resources available to help.    

In Philadelphia, visit http://aasepia.org for more information. Worldwide, visit http://www.aa.org.

As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback.