Diagnosing Alcoholism using the CAGE Questionnaire

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 19, 
| 4 Sources

The CAGE questionnaire helps determine alcoholism, because alcohol abuse doesn't always show on a person's physical appearance

The CAGE questionnaire helps determine alcoholism, because alcohol abuse doesn't always show on a person's physical appearance. Most of us have a stereotypical view of an alcoholic which goes something like this....

Middle-aged man, unkempt appearance, smelling of alcohol, divorced, no work, living on the edge.

Yes, it's true there are alcohol dependents like this, but there are just as many...

  • teenagers using alcohol to escape from bullying and exam overload.
  • retirees who have to have a drink first thing in the morning just to get out of bed.
  • young mothers who drink to cope with their screaming children.
  • successful executives who drink to deal with the stress of their work.
  • children from alcoholic families who learned or inherited their parent's bad habits.

  • Generally, some people appear to be fine even if they abuse alcohol.

There is no 'classic' alcoholic type. There are all types of alcoholic. Read my story, my alcoholism story is as unique as everybody else's.

What all alcoholics have in common though is that they demonstrate certain characteristics or signs and symptoms of drink dependency. I have a page on the ten warning signs of alcoholism that gives you more information on this.

There is an argument that says that people with certain personalities are more prone to alcoholism. Also those in the alcoholism field talk about addictive personality disorder, a condition that makes an individual more likely to become obsessive about activities or substances.

There is however, a straightforward questionnaire, used by many professionals in the alcohol addiction field that simplifies the process of identifying those with alcohol issues.

It is called the CAGE questionnaire. This alcoholism questionnaire can answer the question,"Who is an alcoholic?"

Who is an Alcoholic?
The CAGE Questionnaire

This is a VERY SIMPLE 4 question self-test. Despite its simplicity, however, it is very effective at identifying problem drinking. All you have to do is answer yes or no to the questions.

If you answer yes to 2 or more questions then you should take a look at your alcohol use.

It is important to note that when answering the questions you should take into account your behavior and feelings over your whole lifetime NOT just now.

Here are the questions:

  1. Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have people Aannoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt Gguilty about drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

As you can see the CAGE questionnaire gets its name from the acronym formed by the letters in red.

A word of caution, just because you may have answered yes to 2 or more questions does not mean you are alcoholic.

What it does mean is that your drinking should be investigated further.

What are the Risk Factors?

Risk factors for acquiring a drinking issue include anxiety, depression, or other mood problems a person may have, as well as having alcoholic parents. Low self-esteem is another risk factor for acquiring alcohol dependence. In women impulsivity antisocial behaviors are usually linked with the development of serious alcohol use disorder. Children and teens who’ve had their first alcohol consumption between 11 and 14 years old are more at risk for acquiring alcohol problems than people who do so when either older or younger.

Who is an alcoholic?
What Next?

If you answered yes to two or more or more of the questions it is important not to draw too many conclusions. However, it is important to seek advice and/or help of some sort.

For example if you want to you can look at the other alcoholism tests on this site and see if they confirm or refute what the CAGE test has told you about your drinking.

Another step could be to, to visit somebody who is qualified to make a professional judgment about your drinking habits (only if you want to-remember nobody is forcing you).

Usually this means making an appointment with an alcohol/addiction counselor and discussing your alcohol consumption with him/her.

If you feel more comfortable with your family doctor then go to them by all means. Most doctors have a good knowledge of alcoholism and its signs. Your healthcare provider could help develop a treatment plan, and give medicines. If they think you have a problem they can refer you to a counselor/treatment center. A licensed therapist could help you build coping strategies to reduce or completely stop drinking.

Another option is to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in your area. These meetings are very simple in format. They generally involve alcoholics sharing their alcoholism stories, feelings, and struggles with alcohol. This is a good way to discover more about alcoholism and to decide whether you have a problem. You don't have to speak at these meetings if you don't want to, you can just listen.

Alcoholics Anonymous, however, is not for everybody and there are plenty of options out there for those who do not want to go down the AA route, or have found the 12-step method to be alien to them, you can contact a treatment provider today to know more about the available treatment options and programs for you.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


WebMD. Are You a High-Functioning Alcoholic?. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/high-functioning-alcoholic#1

NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator. WHAT TYPES OF ALCOHOL TREATMENT ARE AVAILABLE?. https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov/what-to-know/types-of-alcohol-treatment

Medline Plus. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html

Medicine Net. Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. January 21, 2021. https://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_abuse_and_alcoholism/article.html

Return from Who is an Alcoholic to Alcoholism Tests

Return from Who is an Alcoholic to Alcoholism Help Homepage

Alcoholism Help Homepage | What is Alcoholism | Signs of Alcoholism | Alcoholism Tests | Alcohol Abuse Effects | Living with an Addict | Alcoholism Recovery | The AA Way| Alcoholism Cure| Alcoholism Medication | My Story | Alcoholism Guide Blog | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.