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
have a drinking problem. If you do, your provider can recommend the best course of
action. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your current provider about your
alcohol use, find another provider..
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. If you don’t feel comfortable
talking with your current provider about your alcohol use, find another provider.
Your answers to these questions suggest that you don't 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
more than 2 drinks a day for most healthy men. It is no more than 1 drink a day for
healthy nonpregnant women and men older than 65. A standard drink is one 12-ounce
can of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled
Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a disease that causes a powerful
craving for alcohol. But not all problems with alcohol are caused by alcoholism. And
who misuse alcohol aren't always alcoholics. Misusing alcohol can lead to serious
life-threatening results. Drinking too much over a long period of time can raise the
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,
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,
than 7 drinks in a week. For most men, harmful drinking is more than 2 drinks a day,
than 4 drinks in a row, or more than 14 drinks in a week. A person who is a harmful
has health or personal problems caused by drinking. But this person may not have alcohol
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 and falls among
older adults. People who drink may be injured during leisure time or on the job. A
woman who drinks can harm her fetus. Homicides and suicides are more likely among
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
one or more of these:
- 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
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 can't limit or control your drinking. Or you can't stop drinking any time you
- 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
program includes giving up alcohol entirely. Cutting back on your drinking doesn't
You must quit. Recovery from alcoholism means a life-long commitment to not drink
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 still have a problem with alcohol abuse. Your provider
- Think about why you are drinking and 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 times that make
you want to drink.
- Find an alcohol treatment program
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.
is a safe way of getting the alcohol out of your body. Your healthcare provider may
you a prescription for medicine that will help reduce symptoms from withdrawing from
alcohol and keep you from taking up drinking again. If your alcohol problem is severe,
may need to stay in the hospital during your detoxification. You may also need to
counselor or spend time in a rehab center. These types of treatments can help you
the issues that lead you to abuse alcohol. They can teach you how to manage your urge
drink and 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.
Ewing was founding director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of
Carolina at Chapel Hill. CAGE is an internationally used assessment instrument for
identifying problems with alcohol.
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.