Alcoholism is a brain disease and is influenced by several interwoven factors including; genetics, how you were raised, your social environment and your emotional health. People with a family history of alcoholism tend to be more vulnerable to developing drinking problems. One of the major stumbling blocks in treating alcoholism is breaking through an alcoholic's denial system that tells them, through a complex set of defense mechanisms, they don't have a drinking problem. This denial system may manifest in justifications and rationalizations as to why it's okay to drink alcohol or blaming others for their excessive drinking. It is also important to take in to consideration that alcohol may be used to self-medicate other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and bipolar.

Some questions to consider when assessing the presence of alcoholism are:

  • Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted a couple of days?
  • Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking - stop telling you what to do?
  • Have you had problems (relational, financial, familial, health and emotional) connected with drinking in the past year?
  • Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
  • Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you didn't mean to?
  • Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
  • Do you have 'blackouts' - complete loss of memory - when drinking?
  • Do you drink because you feel shy around other people, and use it to build your self-confidence?
  • Is you drinking affecting your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorseful after drinking?
  • Does your drinking make you careless of your family's welfare?
  • Has your efficiency and ambition decreased since drinking?
  • Do you drinking to escape the reality of your worries or problems?