Addiction and Substance Abuse
How can I tell if I might be addicted to alcohol or other drugs?
The CAGE Questions are a tool that people can use to understand whether they might be addicted to alcohol or other drugs. These questions can also be used by someone who is concerned about a friend or family member. Answering yes to even one of the above questions indicates a possible problem with substance abuse or dependency and should lead a person to seek further evaluation and help.
C Have you ever tried to CUT down on the amount you use or quit using alcohol or other drugs? Answering yes to this means that the person has lost control and is trying to show himself or others that he can control his use. People with addiction can quit, but if they start using their drug or something that acts similarly on the brain again, they will lose control again.
A Have you ever been ANNOYED by others comments about your substance use? People usually only comment about someone's drinking or using drugs if they witness a problem from it.
G Have you ever felt GUILTY about something you said or did while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs? This can range from domestic violence under the influence to missing important family events such as children's school or sport activities.
E Have you ever needed an EYE-OPENER? This means that the person needs to use something the next morning, after using the day or night before, to stop withdrawal. Withdrawal is a physical array of symptoms that may include tremors, seizures, and hallucinations. Withdrawal occurs when people stop using sedative type drugs including alcohol and "nerve pills" and sleeping pills. These drugs include Valium, Xanax, and Restoril. It can also show up as poor sleep, mood changes such as being easily irritated, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The last three are commonly seen with opiate withdrawal (drugs like heroin, codeine, Ultram, Darvon, and Oxycontin).
Answering yes to even one of the CAGE questions indicates a possible problem with substance abuse or dependency and should lead a person to seek further evaluation and help.
For adolescents, please see the CRAFFT Questions.
For more information:
Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse
health topic, where you can:
- Read articles on this topic
- Browse commonly asked questions
- Learn about health research and how to participate
Last Reviewed: Jun 04, 2010
Edna M Jones, MD, MRO
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University