Thinking About Drinking?

How do I know if I have a problem with drinking?

Thinking about whether or not you have a problem typically leads most people to assume that they don’t. “I just drink because I like it. It’s not like I need it, and I certainly don’t end up lying in the gutter somewhere.” When we imagine the kinds of people who have supposed “real” drinking problems, we often picture disheveled men carrying bottles in paper bags, stumbling down the street.

But, the truth is much more complicated than that.

An “alcohol problem” is a phrase usually used when referring to any condition that is caused by drinking which harms the drinker directly, puts the drinker in some kind of jeopardy, or places others at risk. Problems with drinking typically happen with those that tend to be heavier drinkers, though they can result from even moderate drinking depending on a variety of individual circumstances.

If you are wondering if you have a problem with alcohol, the articles in the upcoming sections are designed to help you sort that out.

What are the different kinds of alcohol-related problems? Learn about the four different kinds of alcohol-related problems, how to distinguish between them, and how to know if you or someone you care about is suffering from them.

What are the warning signs of an alcohol problem? Fill out this checklist of possible symptoms of an alcohol problem to see if you recognize any of them in yourself.

If you already know that you do have a problem, please know that there is help available for you. You can check our list of resources, or call the MSU Employee Assistance Program if you are an employee at Michigan State University to have a discussion with a licensed professional.

Alcoholism – what does that mean, anyway? 
The term “alcoholism” usually refers to alcohol use disorder, which is the most severe problem that can result from drinking. When someone becomes dependent on alcohol, that typically means that a person has often tried unsuccessfully to quit drinking a number of times, they need more alcohol to feel the effects of drinking (increased tolerance), and/or they feel some sort of physical withdrawal effects when they don’t drink (physical dependence). There are many other types of problems related to drinking that don’t involve dependence on alcohol, but are still quite harmful and have potentially long-lasting consequences on a person’s health, job, or relationships. 

If you would like to know more about the different kinds of problems associated with alcohol take a peek at the next article in the series. 

Related Articles

Thinking About Drinking?


If you drink too much for too long, you can become dependent, or physically addicted, to alcohol.

Thinking About Drinking?

Risks to Psychological Health & Appearance

Drinking over the recommended limits can increase the risk to your psychological well-being.

Thinking About Drinking?

Immediate & Long Term Health Risks

Drinking over the recommended limits can have immediate as well as long term health risks.

More ANDI Articles

Find a Class

Browse all courses

Search Health4U

Food and Nutrition Counseling Services

Food and Nutrition Counseling Services provides you with access to accurate health and lifestyle information, helping you to explore new behaviors and skills, and identifying useful campus and community resources.

MSU community members eligible for food and nutrition counseling services include faculty, staff, graduate assistants, retirees and the spouses/partners of members of these groups.

To schedule an appointment with Health4U you are not required to email us from your MSU email address; please email us from the email address you are most comfortable with. 

Read More

Departmental Services

The goal of department based services is to provide work units and colleagues the opportunity to learn about health and wellness as a group activity or exploration.  

Read More

Health e-Guide

This guide has been discontinued and is no longer viewable.

Visit Health e-Guide