The Bottom Line: If you cannot wholehearted and without reservation admit you are an Alcoholic, then ANY treatment will fail. Your head and even your mind may nod and say "that makes sense, I'll do this, or I won't do that" and so on. But your being as a whole will ultimately say "You know what? I'm really just like everyone else - A few drinks won't kill me."
Maybe, maybe not - just then. If you truly are an alcoholic then drinking will kill you in some way sooner or later - real death or the death of everything you hold dear. But first you need to convince yourself that it is true - You are an Alcoholic.
Believe me I know it is not easy. No one wants to admit that they can't control their own mind and body; it seems like it is a sign of "weakness" or "failure." But that's bullshit. Alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple. But unfortunately there is no simple medical test to say Yes or No that you have it. So you've got to rely on other sources, most of which are also BS or so subjective that they might as well be. So I've designed a different kind of test that I believe truly represents the behavior of a "true" alcoholic. See below for some highlights.
You organize your day/night around drinking. Non-alcohol plans are very often trumped by drinking.
When you go out of town, you spend a great deal of time figuring out how to get your “fix.”
Your appearance has materially changed that goes far beyond that expected by aging.
The Conquer Program Quiz uses a "point" system. If you say "Yes" or "I Do" or "I Agree" to a statement, that is 1 point (for most statements). A few others others are worth more than 1 point (I call them the "Big Five" - questions regarding work, relationships, money, run-in's with the law, and health).
There are 25 statements in all totaling 45 possible points. I leave it to the test taker to judge how many points are "enough" to be considered an Alcoholic. My recommendation is that at 7 points you consider yourself a problem drinker. At 12 points you very likely have an addiction to alcohol. 25+ - Well, let's just say you better have your affairs in order and your coffin picked out. This threshold is subjective - believe me I know - but the questions/statements are NOT to the extent possible. For each one there is an explanation/description providing you with more detail, so you can't claim to misunderstand. Examples of these are below.
As you can tell, the statements/quiz questions are focused on your specific behaviors and end-results involving your drinking, NOT general, subjective, or blanket questions asking you things like "Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?" or "Is your drinking making your home life unhappy?"
One of my favorite ones is: "Do you turn to inferior companions and environments when drinking?" What kind of question is that? I guess the authors' subscribed to the caste view of society and saw associating with those "beneath you" as a barometer for being a drunk. I've yet to find an Alcoholism questionnaire that seems to have substantial input by actual alcoholics - they seem more like they were developed by psych majors fresh out of school!
You drink in the morning
You have a great deal of trouble going to sleep, or staying asleep, without a certain amount of alcohol in your system.
You are usually one of the last ones to leave a bar or party.
You start hiding empty alcohol bottles from other people in your household, or even other “interested” parties such as the garbage man.
The Evolution from "Normal" to a Problem Drinker
Could You Be A Functional Alcoholic?
Are You an Alcoholic?
Interventions: A Good Idea?
The Conquer Quiz: You May Be an Alcoholic If...
If it is a choice between getting that alcohol fix (even if you refuse to call it that) and doing other, more productive or previously scheduled things like picking up the dry cleaning, getting to your kid's soccer game on time, etc., and you usually choose getting the fix, well there you go. This includes you regularly worrying that you won't have enough alcohol for an evening or weekend.
Sample questions to self in arriving: Where the hell is the closest liquor store to my hotel in Chicago? Is Illinois a “state” package store, or can I get vodka at a 7-11? Are there day of week/time of day restrictions for buying alcohol?
Do you go wandering in an unfamiliar city at night regardless of the neighborhood or weather? Did you pre-plan and do research on where to get alcohol before you even left on the trip? (Pre-planning your out-of-town alcohol consumption is worth 2 points).
In particular you feel you have become uglier and/or fatter compared to your peers or how you seemed to be until recently. Your skin seems permanently "flushed." You refuse to have your picture taken. Since unfortunately looks can be subjective, look in the mirror, then compare that face, body, skin and eyes with pictures before you started drinking heavily, and even your parents when they were your age. Reconcile the differences with and without alcohol.You can also compare yourself with low-drinking friends of similar age. Be HONEST.
Key Notes and Motivating Factors: You can lose a large amount of weight if you give up alcohol and avoid replacing it with something equally high in calories. And alcohol is HIGH in calories: I estimate I was consuming approximately 2500 calories a DAY in alcohol. Within 4 months I lost over 40 pounds, and though some of that undoubtedly was due to other medical issues, there is no doubt eliminating my daily recommended calorie intake alone in alcohol contributed mightily - not to mention the retained water weight! That bloated feeling disappeared.
The tricky part to post-alcohol weight loss is managing what you replace it with, e.g. soda, candy, six meals a day, etc. This is NOT easy - new sobriety often brings a huge desire for sweets and sticking something in your mouth in general (no that is not a joke). My sickly, bloated, flushed look also disappeared.
This should be self-explanatory, but let's make it crystal clear. This means you drink something with alcohol in it during the morning hours after you wake up. You drink it either before, during, in place of, and/or after breakfast and before lunch. This includes exceptionally smart activities such as putting alcohol in your coffee on your way to work.
I suppose you could also EAT something with alcohol in it, but if you are having jello shots for breakfast then you don't need a damn quiz to tell you you are an alcoholic.
I've left this statement as being worth 1 point, but if you are honest with yourself it should be at least a 2. For the life of me I can't see any excuse to drink in the morning, unless you are just coming off the night shift at work.
Difficulties in sleeping, not sleeping, or very poorly sleeping (e.g. bad nightmares) without alcohol is a classic sign of alcohol dependency. It is also one of the hardest parts of becoming sober (and is addressed extensively in the book). Your body has become accustomed to having alcohol essentially drive a huge part of your unconscious life in addition to the obviously conscious part, and it won't be easy to convince it otherwise. But it CAN be done, and once done, it is a helluva lot better then waking up hungover.
While the term "usually" can be subjective, let's just keep it simple - you do it more often then you don't. A corollary to this is you panicking when you hear the words “last call” and trying to down as many drinks as you can (without being noticed, or equally as bad not caring) in the time remaining.
One of my personal favorites. I've kept this as a 1-pointer though in hindsight doing this is really when I hit alcoholism big time and could easily justify a 2. Particularly if you start forgetting where you hid them.
I’ve occasionally thought of starting a business helping suffering wives/husbands with this problem. If it is in a house, I can find it – guaranteed. But for the "unskilled" hider (e.g. the non-alcoholic), it may seem incredible the number and types of places where your alcoholic can hide booze.
broad, or just silly, the credibility of the test can disappear. And If the alcoholic thinks the test is subjective or untrustworthy, they will just ignore it and continue to deny they have a problem.
If the alcoholic cannot wholeheartedly and without reservation admit they have a serious problem, then ANY treatment is bound to fail. The Conquer Program starts with this premise, then builds on it by focusing on observable behaviors and end results of drinking - aspects that are NOT subjective or open to differing interpretations. Read more below, or take The Conquer Quiz to find out if you or a loved one is an alcoholic!
Some signs are obvious, and some are not. Others are subtle, detectable only over time or by close observation. Not all alcoholics are falling down drunks! Complicating matters, it may be that you are just going through a phase or tough times, or the signs are subjective or open to interpretation, seen differently by different people. This is where an objective evaluation or questionnaire can greatly help. There are two problems however. 1), alcoholics in denial are great at rationalizing their responses to questions to make them fall into the "normal" category, and 2) many such questions can be very subjective, making rationalizing a "normal" answer that much easier.
There are many "tests" to see if you "might" be an alcoholic. But many of these tests are unfortunately very subjective, with questions like "Have ever felt "Guilty" about drinking?" Who hasn't? Even the once a year person will say yes to that, cringing at being a drunken fool the office Christmas party, and so on. Alcoholic does not mean dumb; if the question seems vague, overly
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