Still Hungover? How to Tell if Your Drinking Is Really a Problem

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(Updated) Almost everyone drinks too much on New Year’s Eve — which is why AA members (and future members) often scorn it as amateur’s night. But how do you know when you’ve turned from being a “moderate” drinker to a dangerous one?

(More on Even Small Amounts of Holiday Drinking Boost Cancer Risk)

NPR has a take on this perennial question here. Reporter Patti Neighmond describes some new research on the issue:

What [Arizona state psychologist Will Corbin] is finding is that people who feel stimulated by alcohol are more likely to keep drinking if given the chance. Other researchers are looking at known risk factors for alcohol problems, like family history and an impulsive personality.

And eventually, researchers hope to have a full picture of what turns “moderate” drinkers into “problem” drinkers. Harvard epidemiologist Eric Rimm says, for example, that if you’re a child of a mother or father who’s an alcoholic, then maybe the healthiest amount of alcohol is zero.

Does that sound too drastic? Are you still hurting from a weekend bender and just want to know if your drinking has become unhealthy? Thankfully, there’s a free, research-tested screening and intervention tool available online from Behavior Therapy Associates, called the Drinker’s Checkup. (More on 4 Tips for Staying on the Wagon)

Simply using the program is associated with a substantial decrease in problem drinking and it does not require a commitment to total abstinence. Information is secure and private. So, if you’re worried — or if your New Year’s resolution is to cut down or quit — check it out.

Correction [Jan. 3, 2011]: The original version of this post misstated that the Drinker’s Checkup was available online from the University of New Mexico, instead of from Behavior Therapy Associates.

Related Links:

Special Report: Healthland’s Guide to Life 2011

Photos: What Booze Looks like Under a Microscope

4 Reasons Binge Drinking Is a Public Health Problem