Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Alcohol Abuse and Dependence


Alcohol abuse is characterized by frequent drinking that causes the person to neglect responsibilities such as working, caring for children, or attending school. Difficulties with family, friends, and coworkers because of drinking are also signs of abuse. The person may drink when it is dangerous, for example while driving. It is common for those who abuse alcohol to have legal problems related to drinking, such as being arrested for disorderly conduct. Abuse may lead to dependence.

Alcohol dependence is a diagnosis given when the individual is unable to reduce the amount they drink or to stop drinking, though they often try. The alcohol use takes over more and more of the person's life, and he or she may deny the complications it causes. Those who are dependent often experience physical and psychological dependence. Psychological dependence is characterized by the belief that alcohol is necessary in order to perform everyday activities. Dependence is confirmed when alcohol use is accompanied by signs of tolerance (i.e., it takes more alcohol to get the same effect), withdrawal, abuse, and the compulsion to drink even when there are clear signs that it interferes with daily life.

To the following, answer Yes or No:

(Note. You may substitute the words “drug use” in place of “drinking”).

1.   Do you feel you are a normal drinker? (“normal” –drink as much or less than most other people).

2.   Have you ever awakened the morning after some drinking the night before and found that you could not remember part of the evening?

3.   Does any relative or close friend ever worry or complain about your drinking?

4.   Can you stop drinking without difficulty after one or two drinks?

5.   Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking? 

6.   Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

7.   Have you ever gotten into physical fights when drinking? 

8.   Has drinking ever created problems between you and a near relative or close friend? 

9.   Has any family member or close friend gone to anyone for help about your drinking?

10. Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?

11. Have you ever gotten in trouble at work because of drinking? 

12. Have you ever lost a job because of drinking? 

13. Have you ever neglected your obligations, your family, or your work for more than two days in a row because you were drinking? 

14. Do you drink before noon fairly often? 

15. Have you ever been told you have liver trouble such as cirrhosis?

16. After heavy drinking have you ever had delirium tremens (D.T.’s), severe shaking, visual or auditory (hearing) hallucinations?

17. Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking? 

18. Have you ever been hospitalized because of your drinking? 

19. Has your drinking ever resulted in your being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward?

20. Have you ever gone to any doctor, social worker, clergyman or mental health clinic for help with any emotional problem in which drinking was part of the problem?

21. Have you ever been arrested more than once for driving under the influence of alcohol? 

22. Have you ever been arrested, even for a few hours because of behavior while drinking? (If Yes, how many times____). 



Give yourself 1 point if you gave each of the following answers:

1. No

2. Yes

3. Yes

4. No

5. Yes

6. Yes

7 through 22: Yes

Add up the scores:

0 – 2 = No apparent problem with alcohol/drugs

3 – 5 = Early or middle problem drinker

6 or more = Problem drinker




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