Self-Tests to Help Determine a Drinking Problem

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Some say that if you have to ask whether or not you have a drinking problem, chances are that you probably do. And if others in your life have told you that you have a problem, you probably do. If you have continued to drink in spite of negative consequences, that could be an indication of a serious problem.

This article discusses some of the self-tests that can help you determine if you might have a drinking problem.

What Is a Drinking Problem?

A drinking problem is not an official diagnosis. Instead, the term is used to indicate that a person misuses alcohol.

A person with a drinking problem may or may not have an alcohol use disorder. In some cases, people who might be described as problem drinkers can reduce their alcohol intake or quit drinking when they realize it negatively affects their lives.

If you have done the same thing—told yourself you would never get that drunk again, or even drink again—but found yourself a few days later doing exactly what you swore to yourself you would never do, chances are your drinking falls into the category of an alcohol use disorder, previously labeled as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

Alcohol abuse is described as any "harmful use" of alcohol, and that, by definition, is a "drinking problem." Whether or not you have become alcohol dependent is another question and whether or not you come to believe that you have a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder is yet another question.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), your drinking may be considered risky if your alcohol consumption exceeds the following amounts:

  • For men: Five or more standard drinks on a single day and more than 14 drinks during any given week.
  • For women: Four or more standard drinks per day and more than seven drinks per week.

If you are consuming more than this, you may have a drinking problem. However, you may still experience negative effects on your life and health if you are consuming less than those amounts. 

If you think that you have a drinking problem, you should seek a full evaluation by a healthcare professional. There are many diagnostics tests available online that can help you self-evaluate your drinking, but none of them should substitute for professional medical advice.

Self-Tests If You May Have a Drinking Problem

There are many short alcohol screening tests that have been designed to quickly screen for drinking problems, including the MAST, the AUDIT, the FAST, among others. Here are some of the tests that are available online:

  • Alcohol Use Self-Assessment: This 11-question self-assessment test can help indicate if your drinking behavior is safe, risky, or harmful.
  • MAST: The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST) is made up of 22 yes/no questions. A positive response on six of the questions indicates a drinking problem.
  • AUDIT: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) is one of the most accurate indicators of drinking problems. It includes 10 questions that are scored on a point system. If your score is over eight, it indicates a drinking problem.
  • FAST: The FAST test contains just four questions and screens people for hazardous drinking in emergency room or urgent care settings. As the name suggests, it is designed to quickly assess drinking behavior.
  • CAGE Questionnaire: Developed by the American Psychiatric Association, this four-question test is usually used by healthcare professionals to quickly determine if the need for further evaluation of a person's alcohol use is needed.

Self-assessments can be helpful for spotting the signs of a problem, but consider talking to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your alcohol consumption. They can make an official diagnosis and provide further advice and treatment recommendations.

Do you suspect that you are experiencing withdrawal from alcohol? If you're not sure, consider taking an alcohol withdrawal symptoms quiz to learn more.


Other Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem

In addition to using a self-assessment, it can be helpful to understand some of the other signs that might indicate a drinking problem.

While each person is different, some symptoms to watch for include:

  • Consuming more alcohol than you planned
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
  • Drinking in hazardous situations
  • Experiencing frequent intoxication
  • Physical signs of excessive alcohol consumption such as broken capillaries in the face and weight loss due to excessive drinking
  • Regularly engaging in heavy drinking
  • Thinking about alcohol and planning activities around drinking

Other signs of concern include needing to drink more alcohol to produce the same effects and having strong cravings for alcohol. Alcohol use that creates problems with your ability to function at home, at work, in school, or in your relationships is a sign of a drinking problem.

If you have decided that you do have a drinking problem and you want to do something about it, there is a world of help available. The first step should be to contact your healthcare provider and be totally honest about your use of alcohol. Quitting alcohol suddenly can result in alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you tell if someone has a drinking problem?

    If you suspect that someone you know has a drinking problem, there are some signs that might indicate an issue. Common signs include: drinking to relieve stress or cope with problems, becoming irritable when not drinking, and having problems as a result of alcohol use.

  • If I have a drinking problem, what should I do?

    Deciding to cut back or quit drinking is often the first step. If you experience symptoms of withdrawal when reducing your alcohol intake, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can help supervise your detox and prescribe medications that may help curb your alcohol use.

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  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Rethinking Drinking. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.