Article Hero Image
June 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Early Warning Signal

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

Diagnosing an alcohol problem after it has ruined a person's health, drastically depleted his resources, and perhaps left him down-and-out, is not good enough, says Dr. Ronald J. Catanzaro of Florida, director of the Palm Beach Institute, a private facility for the treatment of people with drug, alcohol, personality, and interpersonal problems.

"I always say that I have one diagnostic question that will tell me whether someone has a drinking problem or not," Dr. Catanzaro noted.

"When that person walks into my office, I simply ask him one question: 'Do you drink?' If the visitor uses one particular phrase, I know he has a problem. That phrase is 'I can take it or leave it alone.'

"What that person thinks he's saying is that he doesn't need it. But what he's really telling you is that he has just two choices--take it or leave it alone. With only those two choices, he can't be a so-called social drinker, although he may tell you that's what he is.

"Going without drinking for some time to prove he doesn't need it is real self-recognition that he has lost control. What the roan with the problem has proved to himself with his little experiment is that the only control he has is 100% abstinence."

Have Something You Want To Share?

We want to hear your story! Submit your story and it could be published in a future issue of AA Grapevine!

Submit your Story