HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M AN ALCOHOLIC?
People who have carried drinking to the level of chronic alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, display a strikingly similar set of behavioral symptoms. This means that discovering whether you are an alcoholic does not have to be a complicated procedure.
It is true that every alcoholic has his or her own unique set of psychological problems, and these play an important role in alcohol addiction, and later in the rehab process. Also, the effects on your health of chronic alcohol abuse can often be serious. But neither of these aspects of alcoholism are diagnostically complete indications of alcoholism.
However, the ways in which every alcoholic responds to the need to ‘reach for that bottle’ are amazingly similar — so similar, in fact, that a simple set of questions can be asked of thousands of different people with a drinking problem, and you get identical answers.
In just a few minutes, you can learn whether or not you are an alcoholic or chronic abuser who should seek help and get onto a medical alcohol detox program right away. Despite the best intentions, most people are not able to stop drinking on their own—and the toxic effects of suddenly quitting can be life-threatening.
FOUR QUICK QUESTIONS — THE RAPS4 TEST
A number of simple questionnaires, some more detailed than others but essentially the same, have been developed to help reveal whether you have a serious drinking problem or not.
One of the shortest, quickest, and most accurate is the RAPS4 test.
RAPS4 gets its name from the four questions, which address Remorse (R), Amnesia (A), Performance (P), and Starter drinking behavior (S) – each a common indication of alcohol abuse.
Countless thousands of people have used this test to diagnose an alcohol abuse problem, and from there make the decision to end their alcohol addiction, starting with medical alcohol detox.
The RAPS4 test has been shown effective in detecting alcohol dependence in the past 12 months of your life, and has been shown to be effective in detecting alcohol dependence across gender and ethnic groups.
To make this test effective, you must be remorselessly honest with yourself. No one is listening, you are here alone, so just answer each question “Yes” or “No” and move to the next one.
ANSWER EACH QUESTION ‘YES’ OR ‘NO’
- Have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
- Has a friend or a family member ever told you about things you said or did while you were drinking that you could not remember?
- Have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
- Do you sometimes take a drink when you first get up in the morning?
“NO” ANSWERS: If you answered “no” to all four questions, your drinking pattern is considered safe for most people and your results do not suggest that alcohol is harming your health.
“YES” ANSWERS: A “yes” answer—to even ONE of the questions—indicates that your drinking is harmful to your health and well-being. If it has not already done so, it will soon affect other areas of your life, such as your work, your family relationships, and the lives of other people around you.
Your next step is a consultation with your health care provider or a medical alcohol addiction specialist — not just a friend or fellow drinker. Tell them that you answered “Yes” to one or more RAPS4 questions. If they don’t know what the test is, or they try to downplay your results or the test, they are not trained in the field of alcohol abuse.
If you answered “yes” to more than one question, the chances are overwhelming that you have an alcohol addiction problem. This leaves no doubt that you should enroll in a medical alcohol detox program, and you may need an alcohol rehab program to fully handle your dependence.
MEDICAL ALCOHOL DETOX
The first step in protecting and recovering your health is a medically supervised alcohol detox program. Medical supervision is essential, because withdrawing from alcohol can be not only painful, it can be life-threatening.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms start within 6 to 48 hours after your last drink. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of appetite
For some people depending on their metabolism, how much they have been drinking, and for how long, withdrawal can also bring on the horrible and potentially life-threatening symptoms of delirium tremens (the DTs):
- Total confusion
- Panic attacks
- Convulsions and Seizures
In fact, if not medically treated during withdrawal, one in every four people withdrawing from alcoholism are at high risk of life-threatening seizures.
Even moderate drinking, done daily, can in time seriously undermine your health. You can ruin your liver, reduce your body’s general health, and open the door to cancer, diabetes and other diseases without ever actually getting drunk. All it takes is several drinks a day, every day, for an extended period of time.
Also, alcoholics are notoriously at risk for malnutrition. More than one doctor has said that most alcoholics are starving because of their lack of interest in food—a side-effect of alcohol toxicity.
Many alcoholics have medical conditions—often undiagnosed—that are made worse by drinking to excess.
Finally, people who suffer from alcohol abuse frequently take over-the-counter or prescription medications, which all contribute toxins that can wear down a body’s health and resistance to disease.
These are the kinds of situations that can reduce your chances of surviving alcohol withdrawal, and why a medically supervised alcohol detox is absolutely necessary as a first step in treatment.
Of course, after medical alcohol detox, you move forward into a proven and effective alcohol rehab program to fully recover your life. Recovering and rebuilding your life, without depending on alcohol to solve life’s problems, is the goal and the essence of alcohol rehab.