People across the western world are certainly fond of a drink. In fact, almost 27% of the American population over 18 binge drink every single month according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Almost 70% of Americans had a drink in the past year and almost 56% in the past month. This will come as no surprise to many – and it’s no secret that lots of us need to cut down in one form or another. But the majority of Americans aren’t alcoholics. How can you differentiate between somebody that likes a drink and a problem drinker that potentially needs professional help? The simple steps below should help.
Doctors across the world use a tool developed by the World Health Organisation called the AUDIT. It helps doctors identify people that might be at risk of alcohol abuse. Whilst it isn’t 100%, and scoring highly on it is not a diagnosis of alcoholism (you should always visit a licensed doctor for a diagnosis), it can give a good indicator of problem drinking and it’s a good tool to have in mind if you suspect you yourself or somebody you know may suffer from alcoholism.
The questionnaire includes 10 questions each with an answer scoring between 0 and 4. The maximum score is therefore 40, and any score over 20 indicates potential dependence. You can download the questionnaire for yourself at the following link but the questions include things such as:
- How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
- How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of your drinking?
- How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session? (This is often known as an “eye opener” and it a big sign of alcoholism)
- How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
- Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested that you cut down?
Getting Help For a Drinking Problem
If you or somebody you love scored highly on the World Health Organisations AUDIT score, it may indicate they have a dependence on alcohol. There are lots of treatment options available for those who do, and there are a number of specialist services available across the united states that can provide tailor-made plans to help an individual overcome their drinking problem. Their treatment options include:
- Inpatient recovery facilities (where a patient will stay on site to break their habit)
- Intensive outpatient treatment (where the patient come in for regular meetings to discuss and get help)
- Pharmacotherapy – sometimes drugs may be prescribed to overcome withdrawal
- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful for people that have a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and a mental health condition).