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Alcoholism: Six Steps to Self Diagnosis

Updated on March 12, 2017
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Chris has spent 26 years in laboratory work and has had personal experience with cancer, alcoholism and Willis-Eckbom Disease (RLS).

Am I an Alcoholic?

Source
This kind of thinking will get you drunk again.
This kind of thinking will get you drunk again. | Source

Step One: Do You Want to Get Sober?

Do you want to get sober? Your first gut reaction is a pretty good indicator of whether or not the question was properly directed to you. You see, I don’t know who has a drinking problem. Doctors, therapists and psychologists can assess a person's drinking habits, but the bottom line is that it is up to each individual to discern whether or not they are an alcoholic. At least that is the only way any progress is going to be made. Alcoholism is only treatable when it is self diagnosed.

If you are an alcoholic, then as you read these words there is a lot going on in your head. Here are the kinds of thoughts an alcoholic would be having right now. “I don’t have a drinking problem.” “I can stop drinking anytime I want to stop.” I am an adult and nobody can tell me what I can or can’t do.” “I really don’t drink that much.” “An alcoholic is a bum that lives under a bridge.” “Get off my back.” “I need a drink.”

Consequences of Drinking

The first thing I or any other recovering alcoholic had to do was to admit that we had a serious drinking problem. I had to say to myself, I am an alcoholic. There is no other way out. There is no pill, no counselor, no program, no god who can do anything for you until you say those words. Until then, you will continue to pay consequences for your drinking. As we proceed through the next five steps of understanding the consequences of drinking, it may become more clear to you whether or not you are an alcoholic.

Consequences

Consequences for our drinking, if we have the courage to look for them, will be found in our finances, relationships, jobs, mental health, physical health and spiritual health.
Consequences for our drinking, if we have the courage to look for them, will be found in our finances, relationships, jobs, mental health, physical health and spiritual health. | Source

Step Two: How Much Do You Spend On Alcohol?

Consequences are the prices we are willing to pay to continue drinking. It isn’t only the hundreds of dollars a month, but lets start there. Just before I got sober, my average cost per day was $19 for alcohol. That’s $570 per month, $6840 per year. If I had continued to drink at that level for twenty more years, I would have spent $136,800 on alcohol. My house could have been paid off with that money.

Step Three: Are You Willing to Lose Your Family Because of Your Drinking?

It’s not just money though is it. The consequences also involve our families. What were my wife and sons thinking when they looked at me while I was drunk? The loss of respect is a consequence. I hid my drinking for several years. There is a consequence in that too, isn’t there? The loss of integrity is a price we pay for our drinking. Alcoholism and divorce are old friends. Maybe your marriage already ended in divorce. Was alcohol a factor? If your answer is no, is it an honest answer. Maybe your spouse cheated on you. Did your drinking have anything to do with them seeking a relationship outside your marriage?

A good place to start. Get this book and start reading, $6.95

Step Four: Are You Willing to Sacrifice Your Job for a Drink?

My drinking affected my productivity at work. How about you? I always told myself that I was doing just fine at work. But how could I be productive when my head was pounding and my hands were shaking? How could I be productive when every other minute I was looking at the clock, anticipating getting out of work so I could begin drinking? How is your drinking affecting you at work?

I already mentioned my shaking hands in the mornings. Alcohol affects us physically. Our livers are tough, but they are not indestructible. We put on weight, our cholesterol is sky high, we are headed for serious health issues, if we aren’t already having them. Will it somehow get better even as we continue to drink? Have you stopped caring? Is there a consequence to be found in an attitude that says we don’t care if we live or die?

Source

Quick Facts: Drinking and Driving

One third of all auto accident fatalities are alcohol related-One person dies this way every 48 minutes. That is 30 people each day and more than 10,000 people each year.

70% of water recreation deaths are alcohol related.

40% of residential fire deaths are alcohol related.

Step Five: Are you Willing to Sacrifice Your Own Health/Life for a Drink?

Physical death is the ultimate consequence for the alcoholic. Untreated alcoholism always leads to death unless something unrelated happens to beat it to the punch line. We alcoholics die as a result of falls, drowning, fire, liver failure, heart attack or some other alcohol related circumstance or condition.

Consequences, if we have the courage to look for them, will be found in our finances, relationships, jobs, mental health, physical health and spiritual health.

Alcohol Abuse and Your Health (Taken from CDC Fact Sheet)

CDC Fact Sheet

Here are some health consequences that people pay for prolonged alcohol use:

  • Neurological problems: dementia, stroke and neuropathy.
  • Cardiovascular problems: myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
  • Psychiatric problems: depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Social problems: unemployment, lost productivity, and family problems.
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Liver diseases:
    • Alcoholic hepatitis.
    • Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.
    • Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.
  • Other gastrointestinal problems: pancreatitis and gas

Source

Step Six: Try Some Controlled Drinking

Has this thought entered your mind yet? I don’t need to stop drinking completely, I just need to slow down a little. Give it a try. If you’re right, and you are not an alcoholic, then you will find it easy to just not drink so much. I tried that, and the time I spent not drinking was filled with thinking about drinking. Listen, normal drinkers don’t live like that. When they aren’t drinking, they‘re not thinking about drinking. Normal drinkers are never preoccupied with either the act or the thought of drinking.

Lets get back to the original question. Do you want to get sober? Are you willing to admit that your drinking is out of control and you can’t stop it? Are you an alcoholic? Admitting that to be a fact is the only door to freedom and recovery. Once we admit that, then the rest becomes much easier.

The Next Step

And what is the rest? What do we do once we admit we are alcoholic and that our lives have become unmanageable? I can only tell you what I and thousands of others have done. We went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

A person might think that before they go to their first AA meeting that they need to stop drinking. That isn’t necessarily true. In fact, waiting for that to happen can be very destructive as the consequences continue to pile up. One of the readings at every meeting of AA includes this very important statement. “The only requirement for (AA) membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Alcoholics Anonymous is in your phone book. Simply call and ask for meeting information. You can also find meetings by visiting the AA website.

The Twelve Step lifestyle that has changed my life

Getting Through the First AA Meeting

Once you have made it to your first meeting, you will find people excited to help you discover what the next steps are to freedom and recovery. Rather than rewrite the book (article) on what a typical AA meeting is like, I defer to a fellow writer who has already done a stellar job of that. I hope you will take the time to read this very helpful article.

Here is an action plan if you care to follow it. Either way there is no such thing as the status quo. Alcoholism isn’t like that. It is a progressive disease. We either accept the treatment and find life or we refuse treatment and find certain, literal death.

Poll: Are you an alcoholic?

Are you an alcoholic and has your life become unmanageable?

See results

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      It is good that you are so aware. You obviously know that you are at risk if you should start drinking more heavily. It didn't take much for me to go over the edge. Thanks for reading.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      There are alcoholics in my family. At family weddings and such I would always be stuck with a drunk bothering me. That's why I seldom drink and I've never been drunk, just tipsy a few times.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      viannovice, alcohol and alcoholic behavior can mask the true person. It takes considerable effort, even if we are not drinking to bring that person out. Thank you for coming over.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Kudos to you, Chris! My father was an alcoholic and I never liked him until I was 40. He had stopped drinking then. I never knew what a good person was underneath.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Thanks Randi, The pain killers are tough, I'm sure. I am glad you have been spared the addiction to alcohol. It is good to be free. Thank you for the up and useful. That is always appreciated.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      This is a great and informative hub! I have been fortunate not to have fallen into the trap of drinking but definitely have an addictive personality. Painkillers have been my vice. Thank you for writing this! Up and useful!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Then not drinking is better than drinking. Just a personal testimony from me to you. I want to be sober and content. That is why I attend meetings. It helps me get the garbage out and keep the good. Thanks for being here. My best wishes to you Mhatter. It's always good to see you.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing. I started drinking heavily in 1992. If I wasn't working or performing, I would be buzzed to drunk. In 2010, when I got ill, my body stopped tolerating alcohol. I can't drink even if I want to.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      teacherjoe52, Thank you for those comments. We have the opportunity in sobriety to gain insight into our condition. It is obvious that you have invested time and thought in the things you have mentioned. Thank you for stopping in and sharing in this article.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 4 years ago

      Good morning Cam.

      Very well said.

      As an alcoholic may I add to thisarticle some important points?

      One reason for alcoholism is nutrient. Sometimes it may be caused by food we have allergies to or are not getting. May I strongly suggest eating a lot of green vegatable like kale and bok choy.

      Reason number two is because of suppressed emotions. This is when we hold in hurt and or anger from the past, for ecample if we were abused when we were children and it has not been dealt with. Then a good coubcillor in needed.

      Reason number three is the catgory I fall into. It is hereditary . It is in our genes. Yes, some of my relatives have litterally drank themselves to death.This type of alcoholism will never be cured.This may require medication. It may sound corny but it is true. It is only when I completely surrendered my lfe to Jesus that this curse has been lifted from me and I haven't touched a drink since.

      God bless you.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      eHealer, now wait a minute, you are one of my unofficial mentors on here. You inspire me. But thank you for those words of encouragement. I value them very much. I do hope this can get into the hands of someone who needs it.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Becky, it is heartbreaking. Consequences are the key. If we allow the addict to fully experience the consequences of using, they will come around much faster. You have done your son a good service by handling it as you have. So sorry that you have to go through it though. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Beautifully done. My son is addicted to drugs and my husband and I sent him to jail over it. He admitted that he was addicted about a month into his sentence. When he got out, we tried to get him to go to a rehab but he said he didn't need to. Now he is back in jail for the drugs. The two are so close in treatment. You have to admit that you have a problem before it will do any good trying to get treatment. It is heartbreaking.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Cam, you are an excellent writer. This is so well written, and with an undeniable clarity and tone. You have a lot to share and this will help many people who need to come to terms with choosing life or not. Ultimately, letting go of the addiction is saying "yes" to life. Thanks and I am so inspired by you.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Thanks billybuc, Lets just keep holding out hope for those still suffering. It's all we can do. Thanks for dropping in. Happy sixth anniversary.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are preaching to the choir with this one my friend. Been there, done that, damn near died, and I ain't going back. Six years sober this Friday and loving life.

      Great hub;; very well done my friend.

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