Testing and Screening for Alcoholism

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Drinking alcohol in excess can negatively affect your health, career, finances, family, social life, and more. In addition, you may experience financial and legal issues contributing to the hopelessness and despair you’re feeling. The longer and more often you drink, the greater your chances of developing alcohol dependence. If this happens, you will probably find it even more challenging to cut back or quit.

If your tolerance continues to increase, you will need to drink even more than you used to feel the same effects. Doing this can increase the risk of alcohol overdose and the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Without intervention, you can become hopelessly caught in a downward spiral of alcoholism, and you may feel as if there is no way out.

At Guardian Recovery, we understand that the impact of a severe drinking problem has physical, emotional, and spiritual repercussions. For this reason, we have developed effective, individualized alcohol addiction treatment programs that address all aspects of active addiction while providing individuals with the education, tools, and support they need to forge a new, healthier life in recovery.

If you or a loved one cannot control alcohol use, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs and begin your journey to long-lasting sobriety.

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Identifying Alcohol Use Disorder

When a person realizes they might have a drinking problem, a first step is often taking a self-assessment to see where they stand. If you or your loved ones are concerned that your alcohol use has become problematic, there’s every possibility that it has.

Health providers and clinicians use many different alcohol screening tools to diagnose an individual with alcohol use disorder. Many of these tests are available online and can be used to help you determine if you should consider seeking professional help.

At-Home Screening For Alcoholism

The primary purpose of a self-assessment should be to identify an alcohol use problem in yourself or a loved one, as they do not provide a clinical diagnosis. If you ultimately determine you need help because you cannot control your drinking, you should begin exploring your treatment options and decide which one to pursue.

Always remember there are many benefits to seeking professional help from an addiction treatment center. The most effective modern approaches to alcohol and drug addiction are comprehensive, evidence-based, and founded in behavioral health science and holistic healing. Addressing every aspect of addiction often requires a customized, multi-level care program featuring a variety of therapeutic remedies, such as medical detox, individual therapy, group support, and more.

To get started, ask yourself the questions listed below. How many times did you answer “yes”? If it’s even once, that could indicate you have a developing problem that could worsen if left unaddressed. If you answer yes to several, you should seek a formal diagnosis from a health provider and professional treatment.

Self-Assessment Questions:

  • Have you tried to curb your drinking but found that you cannot?
  • Do you have to drink increasing amounts to feel the effects you desire?
  • Are you often thinking about the next time you can drink?
  • Do you drink to help you deal with unwanted emotions, such as anxiety, depression, or just boredom?
  • Has a health professional told you that you drink too much or face health risks?
  • Do you sometimes drink on inappropriate occasions, such as at work, school, or while driving?
  • Have you felt the need to conceal the extent of your drinking from friends and family?
  • Do you get defensive or angry when confronted about your drinking habits?
  • Have you missed or been late for work, school, or events due to being hungover?
  • Have you started to drink right after waking up as a “hair of the dog”?
  • Have you been arrested for alcohol-related offenses, such as drinking and driving, public drunkenness, etc.?

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Common Alcohol Use Disorder Assessments

The following are among the most commonly used alcoholism screening tests:

Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) 

AUDIT is a simple screening method for past-year harmful alcohol use. A score of 8+ out of 10 indicates risky alcohol consumption or an alcohol use disorder.

AUDIT is based on data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is purported to be the most widely used alcohol screening instrument in the world. It is designed for health care providers to use in a range of health settings, but it can also be self-administered or used by those in other professions.

CAGE (Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-Opener)

CAGE is a short questionnaire used to determine if substance misuse is occurring and should be addressed. Health professionals sometimes use this, but it can also be used as a self-assessment—provided that doing so does not officially diagnose one as an alcoholic. The four questions on this screening tool consider not just the individual’s current circumstances but apply to their entire life. 

T-ACE (Tolerance, Annoyance, Cut Down, Eye-Opener)

Similar to CAGE, T-ACE includes four questions that are “significant identifiers of risk drinking.” This tool is used to test for pregnancy risk drinking, defined as having at least one ounce of alcohol per day while pregnant.

MAST (Michigan Alcohol Screening Test) 

MAST is much longer than other screening tools, containing 25 yes or no questions. It was “devised to provide a consistent, quantifiable, structured interview instrument to detect alcoholism.” In addition to current drinking patterns, these questions evaluate familial, occupational, and societal issues related to heavy drinking.

Receiving a Professional Diagnosis & the DSM-V AUD Criteria

The first step to dealing with a health condition in a structured way is clearly defining its characteristics. The  Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) has done this for mental health and substance abuse disorders by creating a classification system. 

Mental health professionals can accurately diagnose an alcohol use disorder using specific criteria in the DSM-V,  a reference handbook commonly used by psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed counselors, and sometimes healthcare providers such as doctors. It can also be a valuable resource for anyone seeking information about mental health conditions.

According to the DSM-5, alcohol use disorder is “a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress…manifested by at least 2 of the following [11 criteria] occurring within a 12-month period.” Your alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence level can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

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We Can Help You Overcome Addiction

If you or someone you love is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, Guardian Recovery is here to help. Our specialized treatment programs are designed to address alcohol dependence and the many contributing physical and emotional factors associated with the condition.

When you reach out for help, an experience Treatment Advisor will guide you through our streamlined admissions process. We will conduct a short pre-assessment to confirm our treatment program will meet your unique needs and goals. If so, we will help you determine the appropriate level of care that’s right for you. We want you to receive the help you need and deserve as soon as possible.

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin your alcohol addiction recovery journey.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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