Your answers to these questions suggest that you have a problem with alcohol. You should see your healthcare provider right away to talk about your answers to these
questions. He or she can help you find out whether you have a drinking problem. If
you do, your provider can recommend the best course of action.
Your answers to these questions show that you have a problem with alcohol. See your healthcare provider right away to talk about your answers to these questions.
He or she can help confirm that you have a drinking problem. He or she can also recommend
the best course of action.
Your answers to these questions suggest that you do not have a problem with alcohol.
See your healthcare provider if your drinking gets you in trouble with your job, family
life, health, or the law.
About Alcohol use and abuse
Drinking is often a casual part of social life. Light drinking also may help cut the
risk for heart disease in middle-aged or older adults. Moderate drinking is no more
than two drinks a day for most healthy men. It is no more than one drink a day for
most healthy nonpregnant women and men older than 65. A standard drink is one 12-ounce
bottle or can of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1-1/2 ounces of
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that causes a powerful craving for
alcohol. But not all problems with alcohol are caused by alcoholism. And people who
misuse alcohol aren't always alcoholics. Misusing alcohol can lead to serious or life-threatening
results. Drinking too much over a long period of time can raise the risk for certain
cancers. These include cancers of the liver, esophagus, throat, and larynx. Chronic
harmful drinking can cause liver disease, problems with the immune system, and brain
Harmful drinking means having more than 1 drink a day for most women who aren't pregnant
and for men over 65. It also means more than 3 drinks in a row, or more than 7 drinks
in a week. For most men, harmful drinking is more than 2 drinks a day, more than 4
drinks in a row, or more than 14 drinks in a week. A person who is a harmful drinker
has health or personal problems caused by drinking. This person, though, may not have
Binge drinking is another kind of harmful drinking. It means having 5 or more drinks
in a row for men, and 4 or more drinks for women within about a 2-hour period. A person
who binge drinks may not have alcohol dependence.
Drinking raises the risk for death from car crashes. People who drink may be injured
during leisure time or on the job. A pregnant woman who drinks can harm her fetus.
Homicides and suicides are more likely among people who have been drinking.
What Is Alcohol use disorder?
Alcohol abuse means drinking too much on purpose. It's a pattern of drinking too much
alcohol too often, and it causes problems in your daily life.
Alcohol use disorder can start as alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse includes 1 or more
- You can't finish a major project at work, school, or home because of drinking.
- You drink while driving or running a machine.
- You have legal problems because of your drinking. An example is getting arrested for
driving while drunk. Another example is hurting someone while you are drunk.
- You choose to drink even though you have personal problems made worse by your drinking.
If alcohol abuse does not stop, it can progress to a more severe form of alcohol use
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is also known as severe alcohol use disorder. It is a medical disease.
If you have at least 3 of these symptoms, you may have alcoholism:
- You have a strong craving, hunger, or need for alcohol.
- You cannot limit or control your drinking, or are unable to stop drinking any time
- You often make excuses or blame problems with your behavior or relationships on other
things when they are really because of your alcohol use.
- When you stop drinking after a period of heavy use, you have nausea, sweating, shakiness,
and anxiety. These are called withdrawal symptoms.
- You need to drink more and more alcohol to feel the same "high."
Deciding to get help
Many people with problems caused by alcohol find it difficult to admit they need help.
The sooner you get help, the better your chances of recovery. Any recovery program
includes giving up alcohol entirely. Cutting back on your drinking doesn't work. You
must quit. Recovery from alcoholism means a life-long commitment to avoid alcohol.
This has many rewards, including regaining your health, your relationships, and your
Your healthcare provider can help you. Your provider will ask you questions about
your drinking. Try to answer these questions as fully and honestly as you can. Your
provider will also give you a physical exam. If your provider concludes that you may
be dependent on alcohol, he or she may recommend that you see a specialist in treating
alcoholism. Ask questions about any treatment choices and make sure you understand
Help for alcohol use disorder
Your healthcare provider may decide that even though you are not dependent on alcohol,
you may still have a problem with alcohol abuse. Your provider can help you:
- Think about why you should stop abusing alcohol.
- Set a drinking goal. You may decide to quit drinking. You may decide to limit how
much you drink.
- Think about why you abuse alcohol. You can find new ways to handle situations that
make you want to drink.
Your treatment depends on how severe your alcohol problem is. It also depends on what
treatments are available where you live. You may need detoxification. This is a safe
way of getting the alcohol out of your body. Your healthcare provider may give you
a prescription for medicine that will help reduce symptoms from withdrawing from alcohol
and keep you from taking up drinking again. You may need to see a counselor. A counselor
can help you figure out things to do that don't remind you of drinking.
Your spouse or family also may need to see a counselor to help you recover. Your treatment
program may help you find a lawyer, a job training program, child care, or a parenting
class if you need it.
About CAGE: The CAGE questionnaire was developed by Dr. John Ewing, founding director
of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
CAGE is an internationally used assessment instrument for identifying problems with
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional health care. Always
consult with a healthcare provider for advice concerning your health. Only your healthcare
provider can determine if you have a problem with alcohol use.