Alcohol Abuse: Deciding to Get Help

Drugs and Alcohol

What Are the Signs of a Problem?

How can you tell whether you, or someone close to you, may have a drinking problem? Answering the following four questions can help you find out. (To help remember these questions, note that the first letter of a key word in each of the four questions spells ”CAGE.”)

• 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 (Eye opener)?

One ”yes” response suggests a possible alcohol problem. If you responded ”yes” to more than one question, it is highly likely that a problem exists. In either case, it is important that you see your doctor or other health care provider right away to discuss your responses to these questions. He or she can help you determine whether you have a drinking problem and, if so, recommend the best course of action for you.

Even if you answered ”no” to all of the above questions, if you are encountering drinking–related problems with your job, relationships, health, or with the law, you should still seek professional help. The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely serious––even fatal––both to you and to others.

The Decision To Get Help

Acknowledging that help is needed for an alcohol problem may not be easy. But keep in mind that the sooner a person gets help, the better are his or her chances for a successful recovery. Any reluctance you may feel about discussing your drinking with your health care professional may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and alcoholic people. In our society, the myth prevails that an alcohol problem is somehow a sign of moral weakness. As a result, you may feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in yourself. In fact, however, alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma or diabetes. Moreover, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous payoff––a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life.

When you visit your EAP counselor, he or she will ask you a number of questions about your alcohol use to determine whether you are experiencing problems related to your drinking. Try to answer these questions as fully and honestly as you can. If your EAP counselor concludes that you may be dependent on alcohol, he or she may recommend that you see a specialist in diagnosing and treating alcoholism. You will be involved in making referral decisions and have all treatment choices explained to you. To contact an EAP counselor call:

Portland: 503–639–3009
Salem: 503–588–0777
Toll Free: 1–800–433–2320

*Information obtained from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism