Are You an Alcoholic? Signs of Trouble and Helpful Resources

By William Peacock, Esq. on March 05, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's not an easy question to ask, or to answer.

"Do I have a drinking problem?"

Everyone has an opinion. Your mother thinks you drink too much. Your buddies think you don't drink enough. Some folks can drink every night until they black out, then make it to court in the morning, while others have a drink or two and have to call in sick the next morning. There are clinical criteria and there are informal self-evaluations.

So yeah, asking the question is hard, but answering it (honestly) is harder.

Alcoholism Defined

Some will define alcoholism as drinking habits that interfere with your profession or personal life. That's vague, but a good place to start. If your drinking is getting in the way of your duties to your clients and coworkers, that's a bad sign.

There are also quizzes, which seem to be based on the DSM-V criteria, available from National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you think you might have a problem, take a quiz or two. Talk to your doctor or a health professional. And approach the question honestly -- all the quizzes on the Internet won't matter if you hedge your answers (I only blacked out because it was a holiday, I drink alone because I live alone, etc.)

And if the signs are pointing towards trouble, we'd encourage you to act sooner rather than later. We've seen case after case of attorney discipline that began with a substance abuse problem. Seek treatment before your career is in jeopardy, not because the state bar is forcing you to.


For lawyers, the American Bar Association maintains a database of Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAPs) by state. There are programs for alcoholism, as well as drug abuse, depression, stress, suicidal ideation, and other issues common to our profession.

And if you'd like resources outside of the profession, Alcoholics Anonymous has a directory of local offices in the United States and Canada where you can find a meeting and other helpful materials.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard