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    Do I Have an Alcohol Problem?

    You’ve probably heard about “alcohol abuse,” alcohol dependence,” or “alcoholism.” Or maybe you know the new term that doctors use: “alcohol use disorder,” which can range from mild to moderate to severe.

    These are the guidelines that define an alcohol use disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association:

    Understanding Alcohol Abuse

    Find out more about alcohol abuse:






    • Drinking more, or longer, than you planned to
    • Tried to cut back or stop more than once, and couldn’t
    • Spend a lot of time drinking, or being sick after drinking
    • Want alcohol so badly you can’t think of anything else
    • Have problems with work, school, or family because of your habit (or being sick after having alcohol)
    • Kept drinking even though it caused problems for you with your relationships
    • Quit or cut back on other activities that were important or enjoyable to you, in order to drink
    • More than once found yourself in situations while or after drinking that made you more likely to get hurt
    • Kept having alcohol even though it made you feel depressed or anxious, hurt your health, or led to a memory blackout
    • Had to drink more than you used to in order to get the effect you wanted. Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before.
    • Found that you had withdrawal symptoms when the buzz wore off, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure. Or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that were not there.

    If you've had two or three of those symptoms in the last year, that’s a “mild” alcohol use disorder.

    It’s a “moderate” disorder if you've had four to five of those symptoms. And it’s “severe” if you've had six or more.

    Keep in mind that a serving of alcohol is:

    • 12 ounces of regular beer
    • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor
    • 5 ounces of wine
    • 3-4 ounces of fortified wine (such as sherry or port)
    • 2-3 ounces of cordial, liqueur, or aperitif
    • 1.5 ounces of brandy, cognac, or 80-proof distilled spirits

    Many places over-serve booze. It’s easy to do, even at home, if your wine or beer glasses are big.

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