First Signs of Alcoholism


There are several “yes/no” tests designed to alert users to the first signs of alcoholism. The following example comes from the National Institutes of Health:

  • Have you ever felt that you need to cut down on your drinking?
  • Have you been annoyed by people criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt guilty or bad about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to get rid of a hangover or steady your nerves?


Other indicators of alcoholism include any or all of the following signs:

  • You drink more than moderate amounts (two drinks a day for men and one for women)
  • You stay drunk for several days at a time
  • You drink to feel better (to get over a quarrel with a friend or loved one, to calm your nerves, to get over a disappointment)
  • You want to continue drinking when others in your group are ready to stop
  • You find you have an increased tolerance for liquor
  • If someone mentions that you have a problem with alcohol, you deny it
  • You drink before going to a social event where you know drinks will be available
  • You drink the first several drinks quickly
  • You try to hide how much you drink

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has developed a list of 12 Questions, that have helped many decide whether their drinking has gotten to point where they need to seek help.

If you find that some or all of these first signs of alcoholism apply to you, what is the next step?

Seek help. Call your family doctor, or contact the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). They will direct you to a substance abuse program in your area.





Many people find help through Alcoholics Anonymous. To find an AA chapter in your area, visit the AA web site or find a contact number in your local telephone directory.

For additional resource and information on alcohol abuse and dependence, a list of worldwide organizations and contacts can be accessed in our alcoholism help section.



More signs of alcoholism on our main alcoholism signs page

Alcoholism home page