Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m 21 and drink alcohol (beer), but I don’t do drugs. My girlfriend is 19 and she does not drink at all, ever. We both enjoy reading your columns and, of course, my girlfriend always sides with you when it comes to the topic of avoiding alcohol. She tells me sometimes that I might be addicted to alcohol, but she does not harp on this too much. However, her words have me thinking. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m not addicted, and I’m positive that I could quit drinking if I really wanted to. It’s just that I’m not ready to quit just yet. I like it, and it’s fun to drink on the weekends with my guy friends who are all from 21 to 23 years old.

Just for the record, how can one tell if he has an alcohol problem? I’m confident that I don’t fall into this category, but I want to be sure. Maybe I’ll quit someday, but I don’t want to yet. I have not gotten into any trouble with the law due to my drinking. That’s pretty good, right?

— Careful Weekend Drinker, via email

Dear Careful Weekend Drinker: Please read this useful quiz to address your questions and concerns. Spend a few minutes to answer the following questions yes or no:

• Do you lose time from school or work due to drinking?

• Do you drink to feel more comfortable?

• Do you drink to build self-confidence?

• Do you drink alone?

• Is drinking affecting your reputation?

• Do you drink to escape from study or home worries?

• Do you feel guilty after drinking?

• Does it bother you if someone says you drink too much?

• Do you feel more at ease on a date when drinking?

— Have you gotten into trouble at home because of your drinking?

• Do you borrow or save up money so you can buy liquor?

• Do you feel a sense of power or well-being when you drink?

• Have you lost friends since you started drinking?

• Do your friends drink less than you do?

• Have you started hanging out with a heavy-drinking crowd?

• Do you drink until the liquor is all gone?

• Do you ever wake up and wonder what happened the night before?

• Have you ever been arrested or hospitalized because of drinking?

• Do you turn off mentally when you hear reports or lectures on alcohol?

• Do you think you have a problem with alcohol?

Each yes answer is a warning signal. If you answered yes to three or more questions, you have a problem with alcohol that should be immediately addressed.

You say that you can quit drinking? Do it now! If you find that you can’t quit, get professional help — immediately. Life is much too precious to waste, and those who become addicted are wasting theirs.

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