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by Abigail Van Buren

Answers to Drinking Quiz Can Signal Need for Help

DEAR ABBY: Several times I have read in your column a list of danger signals that suggest someone may be addicted to alcohol. I brushed it off the first time I saw it since it "obviously didn't refer to me."

I had a good job, a loving wife, eight children and a nice home. I was a social drinker and never missed work due to drinking. At first my wife occasionally nagged me about my drinking.

As time passed, things began to worsen. Co-workers whom I considered less capable were given the promotions I felt I deserved. My relationship with my wife began to unravel, and she avoided my advances. My kids grew older and their friends came to our home less and less often.

When we had a social gathering, my wife and children would beg me not to drink. My health began to deteriorate. More than once my wife threatened to take the kids and leave. Then I would cut down on my drinking and she'd relent, but soon I was hitting the bottle again.

The next time my wife threatened to leave, I thought to myself, "Go, and be damned! If I can't have a few drinks without your nagging, I'd be better off without you." I didn't say it, but it frightened me that I thought it.

Then I saw the test for alcoholism in your column again. I took it and passed with flying colors. However, my conscience wouldn't let me get away with the lies I told myself when I took the test, so I took it again -- this time honestly. You had said that if you answered yes to four or more questions, you had a drinking problem. I answered yes to seven. I finally had to admit I had a problem.

To make a long story short, I've been sober for 12 years now. It wasn't easy. I had that terrible urge to drink several times a year for a few years, but I was able to resist.

I like myself a lot better sober, and so do my wife and children. Abby, please reprint your test; you might help someone else. -- SOMEONE WHO FINALLY GOT SOME SENSE

DEAR SOMEONE: Congratulations on your sobriety. I'm pleased to print the test again.

Readers, if you are unsure whether or not you have an alcohol problem, take this test:

(1) Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but lasted only a couple of days? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(2) Do you wish people would stop nagging you about your drinking? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(3) Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another hoping that would keep you from getting drunk? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(4) Have you had a drink in the morning during the past year? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(5) Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(6) Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(7) Has your drinking caused trouble at home? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(8) Do you ever try to get extra drinks at a party because you did not get enough to drink? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(9) Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking anytime you want, even though you keep getting drunk? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(10) Have you missed days at work because of drinking? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(11) Do you have "blackouts"? Yes ( ); No ( ).

(12) Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink? Yes ( ); No ( ).

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are in trouble. Run, do not walk to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with one another in order to solve a common problem, and to help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for membership. It is self-supporting through voluntary contributions.

Look for AA in your phone book, or write to P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. 10017, for information.

Good luck and God bless you.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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