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What Is Problem Drinking (Alcohol Abuse)?

Alcohol abusers (problem drinkers) drink alcohol at a level that causes problems in some area of life (health, work, family, legal…) but do not drink with the loss of control that is associated with alcoholism. Alcohol abusers may be physically dependent on alcohol, but generally, are not.

Put most simply, if your use of alcohol is causing you problems in life and you continue to drink, then you have an alcohol abuse problem. Alcohol abusers may or may not drink daily. The quantity or frequency of alcohol use is less relevant in making a diagnosis of alcohol abuse than the consequences that occur after alcohol use.

Alcohol abusers who continue to drink alcohol run the risk of progressing to alcoholism.

Alcohol Abuse Self Test

Health workers will often use the CAGE alcohol test to screen for problems. Ask yourself the following 4 questions, and if you answer yes to 2 or more, there is a strong likelihood that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

The CAGE Test1

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you Ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?


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