The first -- and often the toughest--step in beating alcoholism, agree recovered alcoholics Robert McCormick and Paul Molloy, is admitting the existence of a problem. To test whether alcohol is a problem for you, answer yes or no to this series of questions developed by the National Council on Alcoholism:
1. Do you occasionally drink heavily after a disappointment, quarrel or rough day?
2. When under pressure, do you always drink more heavily than usual?
3. Can you handle more liquor now than when you first started drinking?
4. On the "morning after," have you been unable to remember part of the evening before--even though friends say you didn't pass out?
5. When drinking with others, do you try to have a few extra drinks when they won't know it?
6. Are there certain occasions when you feel uncomfortable if alcohol is not available?
7. When you start drinking, are you in more of a hurry to get the first drink than you used to be?
8. Do you sometimes feel a little guilty about your drinking?
9. Are you secretly irritated when friends or family discuss your drinking?
10. Have you experienced memory blackouts more frequently?
11. Do you often want to drink more after friends have had enough?
12. Do you usually have a reason for occasions when you drink heavily?
13. When sober, do you often regret things you've done or said while drinking?
14. Have you tried to control your drinking by switching brands or following different plans?
15. Have you often failed to keep promises about controlling your drinking?
16. Have you tried to control your drinking by changing jobs or moving?
17. Do you try to avoid family or friends while drinking?
18. Are you having an increasing number of financial and work problems?
19. Do more people seem to be treating you unfairly without reason?
20. Do you eat very little or irregularly when drinking?
21. Do you sometimes have the morning "shakes" and relieve them with a drink?
22. Are you unable to drink as much as you once did?
23. Do you sometimes stay drunk for several days at a time?
24. Do you sometimes feel very depressed and wonder whether life is worth living?
25. After drinking, do you ever see or hear things that aren't there?
26. Do you get terribly frightened after drinking heavily?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you have some symptoms that may indicate alcoholism. "Yes" answers to three or more questions in various categories indicate the following stages of alcoholism:
Questions 1 to 8: Early stage.
Questions 9 to 21: Middle stage.
Questions 22 to 26: Beginning of final stage.