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Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

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Lots of people like to kick back every once in awhile with a few drinks, but are they closer to having a drinking problem than they might realize?

The difference between the "almost alcoholic" and the true alcoholic is a matter of degree, according to Dr. Robert L. Doyle, professor of behavioral health at Harvard University and psychologist Dr. Joseph Nowinski. Their new book "Almost Alcoholic" looks at the fine line where a person can be well on their way to full-fledged alcoholism.

The true alcoholic is physically dependent on alcohol, and will experience symptoms of withdrawal if he or she stops. The true alcoholic will answer "yes" and "always" or "almost always" to most or all of the following statements.

Men and women who are somewhere in the almost alcoholic zone, however, will be able to identify with some of these statements as describing their drinking behavior. Are you an almost alcoholic? Keep clicking to see how many of the following statements describe your drinking...

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

It's no secret that psychological stress is a big problem in a work-hard, play-hard country like ours. In a new Gallup poll, 39 percent of Americans said they had experienced stress in the past day. But the poll showed that stress is a much bigger problem in some states than in others. Is yours one of them?Keep clicking to see the top 15 stressed-out states. iStockphoto

You drink to relieve stress

stressed out, woman, businesswoman, pulling hair, facial expression, closeup, stock, 4x3You have come to rely on a drink or two to "unwind" or "de-stress."

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

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You drink alone

Though there was a time when you almost always drank only in the company of others, these days you are just as likely to have one or more drinks when you are alone.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

Experimentation doesn't necessarily lead to addiction, and some parents figure that there's nothing especially worrisome about a child trying drugs or alcohol. In fact, even dabbling in substance abuse can cause big problems, such as car accidents, sexual assault, and serious overdoses. It's not a normal rite of passage. istockphoto

You look forward to drinking

young women binge drinking at barYou find yourself looking forward to that cocktail, glass of wine, or beer while you are on the way home after work. Or you find yourself glancing at your watch to see how close it is to Happy Hour.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

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Your drinking may be related to one or more health problems

heart attack, heart problems, stock, 4x3You have hypertension, diabetes, or are a cancer survivor, but you don't realize that even a couple of drinks can worsen those conditions and increase your risk for cancer recurring.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

Although it can be tempting to drink or use drugs, don't do it. Substance use and abuse can wreak havoc in people with depression. People who suffer from depression and anxiety often turn to alcohol and drugs to relieve their symptoms, but that strategy tends to be harmful in the long run. Drinking and drug use affect brain chemistry, and they can cause problems in relationships, work, and other aspects of life. (They can also be dangerous when combined with some antidepressants.) Although the occasional glass of wine probably won't hurt you, people with depression should limit their alcohol consumption, and, of course, say no to drugs.More from Health.com: 10 Tips for Dating with Depression iStockphoto

You drink to relieve boredom or loneliness

You are retired, widowed, a single parent, or unemployed. You feel lonely or bored at times, and you find that a drink or two is comforting.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

The top three causes of teen death in the U.S. are accidents, homicides, and suicides. Each of these problems is linked to substance abuse. Make sure your teen knows about the dangers of driving under the influence - and pay attention to his/her whereabouts. istockphoto

You drive after drinking

generic, fast, car, speed, drive, speedingYou may never have been pulled over for driving while intoxicated, but you definitely have driven when your blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

Gastric bypass and other forms of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery can sometimes eliminate diabetes and other physical problems caused by obesity. But it can't eliminate the psychological disorder that causes people to binge-eat. Following weight-loss surgery, some former binge-eaters find they are unable to eat as much food as they once did - and so become heavy drinkers or compulsive shoppers as a result. istockphoto

You drink to maintain a "buzz"

You're a "sipper." You do not down your drinks quickly, nor do you drink to the point where you pass out. Rather, you like to keep drinking slowly so as to maintain a "buzz."

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

Everyone encounters some task he doesn't particularly enjoy, but most people are able to find a way to complete the boring aspects of their job, says de Marneffe. People with ADHD, however, have a hard time doing that. Jobs with a lot of repetition tend to be a poor fit, she observes. Choose work that engages you and fulfills your need for novelty and variability. istockphoto

Your performance at work is not what it used to be

If you look at it objectively you are not as sharp at work these days as you were a couple of years ago. This may be reflected in mistakes, a poorer annual performance evaluation, or less of a merit raise.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

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You aren't comfortable in social situations where there is no drinking

drinking, beers, celebrating, beer, partying, friends, cheers, toast, stock, 4x3You are likely to turn down invitations to social events where you know that no one will be drinking, or where alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

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You find that drinking helps you overcome your shyness

You've discovered that a drink or two - either before a social engagement or shortly after it starts - helps you "come out of your shell" and enables you to have a better time.

Are you an "almost-alcoholic"? 10 signs you might have a problem

Think you might be an almost alcoholic?  Here's Dr. Doyle with more: