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Are You at Risk for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?

Published by: LifeWorks,

If you are concerned about how much you drink, you aren’t alone. In fact, according to JAMA Psychiatry, one in eight American adults, or 12.7% of the U.S. adult population, meets the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism.

It’s important to know the warning signs of alcohol abuse. If ignored, alcohol abuse can have serious consequences, including significant health problems and damage to relationships with family members and others.

If you’re worried that you might be abusing alcohol, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you think often about using alcohol while you are doing other activities?
  • Have friends, family members or your employer expressed concerns about your use of alcohol?
  • Has your use of alcohol had a negative effect on any of the following areas of your life?
  • Relationships with family members and others
  • Your work
  • Your physical health
  • Your mental health
  • Your recreational activities
  • Your finances from the expense of purchasing alcohol and from diminished ability to work

Your legal situation, including charges of driving under the influence

  • Do you or others notice a significant change in your personality when you are using alcohol? Do you become extremely sad or extremely happy, or do you not care what is happening in your life?
  • Does your behavior change in other ways when you are using alcohol? Do you embarrass yourself or others? Do you become aggressive or violent toward yourself or others? Do you withdraw from other people? Do you miss work regularly?
  • Have you driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol?
  • Do you seek out activities that include alcohol?
  • Is it hard for you to stop drinking once you start?
  • Do you ever have trouble remembering periods of time when you’ve been drinking?
  • Has your tolerance increased? Do you need more of the substance than you did before to feel the same effect?

In addition to personality and behavioral changes, a person who is abusing alcohol may experience symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. In the case of alcohol or other depressants, symptoms may include drowsiness, slurred speech and loss of coordination. But alcoholism is also a progressive disease, and the long-term health consequences can be devastating. Untreated alcoholism can lead to conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, increased cancer risk, heart disease and damage to the brain.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have an alcohol problem, you have taken an important first step by starting to educate yourself about warning signs. You can get more help, including referrals to treatment programs, by talking with your medical provider or religious adviser, a professional addiction counselor, or a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous ( The sooner you seek professional help, the better your chances of avoiding or limiting long-term problems.

More information about alcohol and other substances is available to LifeWorks users. Go to the LifeWorks app or connect at with your username and password. Search for “substance use” to access articles, podcasts, toolkits and other resources.


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