What’s an Alcoholic?

Isn’t that a great question: What is an alcoholic?

Do you enjoy a glass or two of wine a night?

Have you had a crazy night of drinking recently where you can’t remember things?

Are you a Friday/Saturday drinker, enjoying a cold beer or cocktail on a hot day?

At family events is stocking the bar more important than the food?

Does that make you an alcoholic?

For a long time I didn’t think I was an alcoholic. I simply thought I was able to drink more than others, I could handle it better. Personally there was pride in being able to “play with the big boys and girls.”

Drinking is woven though the culture of the world I live in, it’s on TV, commercials, Facebook posts and almost everywhere we look. It’s an acceptable activity, in our world drinks are enjoyed over dinner with friends, to celebrate an occassion, to unwind, to mourn a loss, pretty much any event you can think of has the possibility of alcohol being served.

 Friends would enjoy drinking with me, for a long time. It wasn’t until they started saying things like, “whoa Julie you really tied one on last night” or “Did you get home ok?” that I began to have a nagging feeling that something was wrong.

And yet, I still didn’t perceive myself as an alcoholic.

I had a full-time job which I was successful at, a great husband, 2 healthy children, a home, car, and “stuff” that I valued.

It was hard to see when my drinking had crossed the line from moderate and social use to problem drinking. There were far too many unfortunate drinking nights for me to get to the place where I finally became desolate.

If you consume alcohol simply to feel good, or to avoid feeling bad, your drinking could end up like mine. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse  snuck up on me, I wasn’t aware of the warning signs.

Today I want to share some of the red flags with you, hoping to raise awareness. I will not explore the causes of alcoholism, that is a discussion for another day.

Again because drinking is so commonly accepted in this and many cultures, it can make it quite difficult to see the disease’s progression in your life. One huge red flag is the effects of your drinking on you.

Perhaps your life isn’t always chaotic, but most of the chaos seems to happen when you’re drinking.

The first time I read these 20 Question from Alcoholics Anonymous I wasn’t honest with myself; I wasn’t ready to face the idea of living without alcohol and yet being surrounded by it. It took me a few more weeks of shame and guilt to get to that place, once I was honest I was shocked that I scored so high.


Take this 20 question test to help you decide whether or not you are an alcoholic.

Answer YES or NO to the following questions.

1. Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
YES __ NO __

2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
YES __ NO __

3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
YES __ NO __

4. Is your drinking affecting your reputation?
YES __ NO __

5. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
YES __ NO __

6. Have you ever got into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
YES __ NO __

7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
YES __ NO __

8. Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
YES __ NO __

9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
YES __ NO __

10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time?
YES __ NO __

11. Do you want a drink the next morning?
YES __ NO __

12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
YES __ NO __

13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
YES __ NO __

14. Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
YES __ NO __

15. Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?

YES __ NO __

16. Do you drink alone?
YES __ NO __

17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
YES __ NO __

18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
YES __ NO __

19. Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
YES __ NO __

20. Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of drinking?
YES __ NO __

What’s your score?

Did you answer YES four or more times? If so, you are probably in trouble with alcohol. Why do we say this? Because thousands of people in A.A. have said so for many years. They found out the truth about themselves — the hard way. But again, only you can decide whether you think A.A. is for you. Try to keep an open mind on the subject. If the answer is YES, we will be glad to show you how we stopped drinking ourselves. Just call. A.A. does not promise to solve your life’s problems. But we can show you how we are learning to live without drinking “one day at a time.” We stay away from that “first drink.” If there is no first one, there cannot be a tenth one. And when we got rid of alcohol, we found that life became much more manageable.


I wasn’t the person who reached for a drink in the morning.

I wasn’t the woman who put her family in jeopardy financially because of her drinking.

I didn’t have health issues because of my drinking.

I had friends who still wanted to spend time with me.

I had a husband, children, home, career.

But if I were to be honest….

I did value the days I could drink more than I should have.

I did count down the days until I could drink and be “free”.

My drinking had increased dramatically.

My husband was often hurt by my behavior while I drank.

My children didn’t get 100% of my attention due to hangovers and my skewed values.

My friends weren’t happy with my behaviors, I was being invited to less events.

I was shameful and eventually became hopeless.

My self-image was becoming ruined, I had reached that point of no return and I sought help.

The fear of facing a life without alcohol passing my lips became less frightening that the life I perceived myself losing.

 Nobody can define an alcoholic to the person who is actively suffering with this disease, but if they can honestly take this questionairre they will have the opportunity to see for themselves the effect drinking is having on their lives.



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5 Responses

  1. Those “have you ever” questions should really be rephrased – according to this I am an alcoholic and I don’t consider myself a drinker but I have at one time in my life done at least 3 things on the list. I believe it’s when it’s affecting your life that you have a problem – there really is a fine line that sometimes is easier to determine than others. Thanks for this info Julie, I am passing it on!

  2. Wow. I came over to see your new blog design and was moved to read this post. My dad is a recovering alcoholic (now 35 years) and I am super super conscious of the “signs.” This will be a very enlightening post for a lot of people, I am sure. Drinking is such an ingrained part of our culture, as you said, I tip my hat to everyone who can fight the battle daily of putting their health ahead of the bottle. I know from watching my dad that it is not easy.

    And, I love the design :)

  3. Thank you for this post! I really appreciate your openness – I am now 19 days sober. I have finally realized that I am a HFA. I am a successful career-driven woman, mother and wife. My drinking has progressed over the years to the point my husband is annoyed and upset with my behavior, I have at least 2 or more drinks at a given time, drinking is omnipresent (increasing drinking more and nearly chugging wine – pouring water into Sauv Blanc bottles to hide my drinking from my husband)…turning to friends that drink heavily to make me feel better that “it happens to everyone”. Thank goodness I have not put my children in danger but I have taken the step to ending the madness.
    It is funny, however, who I tell about my new found path in life and some friends say but you can stop and you don’t have a problem. My husband even said, you are quitting forever? Yes. I am. I have quit drinking for 24 days in the past but now I am ready to be completely done with it. Do I miss the taste? Sure. And some of the funny stories? Absolutely. I will tell you I am much funnier when I am sober than when drinking (especially after the 3rd glass of wine – I think I’m an absolute card and simply am far from it!). I’m still boggled by my husband’s denial of my problem. If I were to return to alcohol I would only regret it and have more blackouts (which began to increase) and embarrassment.
    Ready 4 clarity!

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