By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published May 11, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Every now and then, I like to go back and re-read old articles on, since many are just so timeless and as good as they were when originally published. Usually, I check out a section's "top clicks" list to point me in the right direction, and today I took another look at Molly Edler's 2008 article entitled, "Are you an alcoholic?"

I had forgotten what a good article this was, since we've all heard that question asked about so many people so many times, right?

I found this part, near the bottom, however, the most interesting:

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.

Well, if this test is accurate, then I should notify the fine folks at Hopkins that pretty much everyone I know in Milwaukee under 50 (and some over 50) are alcoholics.

Granted, if people answer "yes" to enough of these questions, then yes, they certainly have a problem. But show me someone who hasn't come in late to work from a hangover, someone who hasn't shot off their mouth while blotto or someone who has made a crappy bar with annoying customers a little more palatable with a cocktail or three.

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the question "Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?" shouldn't get the same weight as " Does drinking cause you to have difficulty sleeping?" Perhaps the author has never had a little too much red wine or skunky beer at barbeque or got cajoled into doing a shot of Jaeger at bar time.

I guess, in general, I'm just not a big fan of using self-help tests to diagnose a serious condition. Playing "20 questions" on a disease that requires more knowledge of context and back story seems a little too "high school" for my liking (and no, I'm not bitching because I answered yes to too many questions).

If I were to make a test about whether someone is or isn't an alcoholic, it suppose it would be just three questions, and answering all three with a "yes" only means that more analysis is necessary:

  1. Do you need to drink to have a good time? (It's OK to admit that some things are more fun while drinking.)
  2. Can you do activities sober that are normally associated with drinking? (It's OK to admit that "being able" to and enjoying them are two different things.)
  3. Is drinking messing up your life? (Only you and your loved ones can define "messing up.")

But what are your thoughts, Talkbackers? Are we just too tolerant of binge drinking here in Wisconsin? Or does everyone just need to order a martini and chillax?

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.