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Alcohol is a depressant, and alcohol consumption can impair the brain's ability to function. Moderate drinking is not necessarily a problem, but heavy drinking can cause serious physical and emotional problems.

Alcoholism is a progressive illness involving the excessive, inappropriate use of alcohol. It is thought to arise from a combination of a wide range of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors. It is characterized by an emotional and sometimes physical dependence on alcohol, or addiction. It frequently leads to brain damage, physical ailments, and early death.

About ten percent of the adult drinkers in the United States are considered to be alcoholics or have experienced drinking problems to some degree. More males than females are affected. The disease is very expensive and difficult to cure. There is not a very high recovery rate.

ARE YOU DRINKING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL?

Answer each question with YES or NO:

1. Imagine yourself at a party. You have an empty glass. Do you always actively look for a refill instead of waiting for someone to offer you a drink?

2. When you're pouring your own drink, do you usually pour a more generous drink for yourself than what others are drinking?

3. Do you often have a drink or two when you are at home alone or in a bar alone?

4. Is your drinking ever the direct cause of a family argument?

5. Do quarrels in your family ever occur, even by coincidence, when you have had a drink or two?

6. Is there any specific time during the day when you feel you must have a drink, such as right after work?

7. If someone asks how much you have been drinking, do you ever lie?

8. Do you ever take a drink to settle your nerves or relieve stress?

9. Is drinking ever a cause for you to take off work?

10. Have you ever missed any meetings or appointments because of drinking?

11. If you don't have at least one drink a day, do you feel deprived physically?

12. Do you sometimes crave a drink in the morning?

13. Have you ever experienced a "morning after" when you cannot remember what occurred the night before?

If you answered "Yes" to any one of the questions, consider it a warning that there is a problem. Do not increase your intake of alcohol. Two "Yes" responses may indicate that you may already be dependent upon alcohol. Three or more "Yes" answers are a clear indication that you have a severe problem and you should seek professional help.