Substance Use

How to Know If You Have an Alcohol Problem

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

young woman alcoholic with liquor bottles upset

CAGE Questionnaire: How to Know If You Have an Alcohol Problem

If you are struggling to stop drinking alcohol or are feeling that the effects of alcohol are having a damaging impact on your life, you may be asking yourself, “Do I have a drinking problem?” The CAGE Assessment is a quick and easy way to assess your level of alcohol dependence and help you figure out what your next steps should be in terms of seeking treatment. Keep reading to learn more about the CAGE Assessment, what it covers, and how it can assist you in your goal to find help.

Are you or a loved one struggling to get your drinking under control? Zinnia Healing is here to help. Contact us today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our substance use treatment options.

What Is the CAGE Assessment?

The CAGE Assessment, also referred to as the CAGE questionnaire, is a screening tool that treatment providers use to diagnose alcoholism. CAGE stands for:

  • Cutting Down: Have you ever felt you should cut down your drinking?
  • Annoyance by Criticism: Does it annoy you when someone criticizes your drinking?
  • Guilty Feeling: Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
  • Eye Openers: Do you ever drink first thing in the morning?

Although commonly used to diagnose alcoholism, the assessment can also be used drug and substance abuse. 

Each question you answer “no” to is scored as a 0 and each “yes” is scored as a 1. A score of 2 or higher is considered clinically significant.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism

In addition to the CAGE Assessment, there are warning signs that you may have an alcohol problem. Know these signs and watch out for them. If you are struggling to quit drinking and these warning signs pertain to you, it might be time to seek help.

Consistently Drinking More Than You Had Planned

From time to time, you may end up drinking more than you intended to for a number of reasons: your favorite team might have gone into overtime during a big game, or you stayed out later than normal celebrating a milestone or holiday. But, if you find yourself consistently drinking more than you had planned or are unable to stop drinking after you start, it may be a sign of a bigger problem.

You Crave Alcohol

You might look forward to a glass of wine after a long day or a drink during a fun dinner out with friends. But, if you are experiencing alcohol cravings that make it hard to concentrate or think about anything else, or you start having cravings as soon as you wake up, this could be a warning sign of excessive drinking. A strong urge to drink may be triggered by certain places, people, events, or even emotions. People with drinking problems react to these triggers differently and with more urgency than social drinkers do.

It’s Causing Tension in Your Relationships

If your loved ones have begged you to stop drinking but you can’t, or you find yourself hiding your drinking only for them to find out (which inevitably starts an argument), it’s likely time to get help to stop drinking. Alcohol is never worth risking close relationships with your family and friends, and therapy and support groups can help you overcome the urge to drink while restoring your relationships. Learn more about therapy at Zinnia Healing.

You’re Experiencing Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

When you’re a heavy drinker, your body becomes reliant on alcohol to function. Therefore, when it does not get the substance it has grown used to, the body goes into shock and presents several unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Shakes and tremors
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Alcohol Is Destroying Your Life

If your drinking habits are starting to spiral out of control and impact other areas of your life, including work, school, home, your health, and legal issues, but you still can’t stop drinking, it’s time to seek help.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

There are several treatment options for people struggling to get their drinking behaviors under control. Some of the most common and effective methods are:

  • Detox: Undergoing a clinically assisted alcohol detox program is an excellent first step to rid your body of alcohol in a controlled environment. Health professionals monitor you and often provide medication to counter the nastiest effects of alcohol withdrawal so that you can successfully detox without being pushed back into the grips of alcohol addiction.
  • Therapy: There are a number of therapy options for people who are rethinking their drinking, including DBT and CBT therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Therapy aims to teach you new coping skills while connecting you with people who are going through similar situations, so you have people to rely on while you create new habits and friendships.
  • Medication: Medication-assisted therapy, or MAT, provides patients with medications that help them stop drinking. If you drink alcohol while taking these medications, the drug will produce a physical reaction that includes flushing, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Other medications block the “feel good” effects of alcohol and can prevent heavy drinking while reducing the urge to drink.
  • Mental health treatment: Alcohol use disorder commonly occurs with other mental health disorders, known as co-occurring disorders. Sometimes depression and anxiety can push people to drink. This is why it’s so important to also seek treatment for these conditions and learn healthier ways to cope with unpleasant feelings.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

If you’re ready to take back control of your life and quit drinking, Zinnia Healing is here to help you. Zinnia Healing has a number of treatment facilities around the country, and its team of experienced and compassionate staff is trained in helping clients recover from alcohol addiction and other forms of substance abuse.

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption and getting the treatment you need, contact Zinnia Healing today to take the CAGE questionnaire and start your journey to your best self.