By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Feb 18, 2008 at 5:16 AM

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun bars and club articles -- including guides, bartender profiles, drink recipes and even a little Brew City bar history. Cheers!

If you get drunk every weekend, does this make you an alcoholic? What if you imbibe every night, but only have one or two glasses of wine? Or what if you drink excessive amounts of liquor on a regular basis, but manage to hold down a job and maintain successful relationships?

Many people wonder at various stages of their lives if they are an alcoholic, and even though alcoholism is easy to detect for some people, many drinkers know there’s a fine line between social drinking and problem drinking but aren’t sure on which side they fall.

John Hyatt is the senior vice president for IMPACT, a local organization that provides prevention, intervention and assessment services to help people define their problem, get help and develop a plan for long-term success.

According to Hyatt, there are four categories of drinkers: people who don’t drink or drink in a way that doesn’t put themselves or anyone else at risk; drinkers who put themselves at risk but have not (yet) suffered consequences; alcohol abusers who suffer or suffered consequences regularly like a loss of job, driver’s license or meaningful relationships; or alcohol dependants who experience physical symptoms (withdrawal) if they do not drink every day.

A recent study conducted at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that Wisconsin has the highest national rate of high school drinking, with 49 percent of students drinking alcohol regularly. Wisconsin also came in first in the nation for underage drinking (39 percent), drinking among adults (69 percent), binge drinking among adults (22 percent) and chronic, heavy drinking (8 percent).

“Alcoholism doesn’t run in my family at all, but I went to Madison, started drinking a lot, and couldn’t stop,” says Milwaukee’s M. Franz. “It started out fun -- you know, just a lot of parties -- but by the time I was 30, I was pathetic.”

Plus, according to the aforementioned study, Wisconsin’s drunk driving rate is twice as high as the norm. In 2005, 41 percent of fatal automobile accidents in the state were due to alcohol consumption and 369 people died as a result of drunk driving.

“We know that in Wisconsin there’s a strong and long history of alcohol abuse,” says Hyatt. “The message we often send to our youth is that drinking is OK and a right of passage. It’s a question of whether or not (Wisconsinites) have a lack of education or ignore the information.”

Although it depends on a person’s size, for the most part, a man is considered to possibly be an alcoholic if he drinks more than five drinks in one sitting, more than two every day or more than 14 drinks in a week. A woman may be alcoholic if she drinks more than one drink every day, more than seven in one week or more than four in one sitting.

Hyatt says it’s a good indicator that drinking is problematic if loved ones start to verbalize concern, especially if they give an ultimatum.

“Basically, it’s questionable any time negative consequences are apparent but a person continues to drink,” says Hyatt.

The following test is used by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to decide if a person is an alcoholic.

1.    Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
2.    Does drinking make your home life unhappy?
3.    Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
4.    Does drinking affect your reputation?
5.    Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
6.    Did you get in financial difficulties due to drinking?
7.    Do you turn to lower companions in an inferior environment when drinking?
8.    Does drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
9.    Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
10.    Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
11.    Do you want to drink the next morning?
12.    Does drinking cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
13.    Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
14.    Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
15.    Do you drink to escape worries or troubles?
16.    Do you drink alone?
17.    Have you ever “blacked out” from drinking?
18.    Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
19.    Do you drink to build up self-confidence?
20.    Have you ever been in a treatment facility or hospitalized for drinking?

The administrators at Johns Hopkins say anyone who answers “yes” to three or more of these questions is an alcoholic.

"You know if it's a problem, and you know if it's not," says Franz. "Just listen to yourself."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.