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Alcohol Abuse vs Alcoholism

Understand how alcohol abuse and alcoholism are different.

Understand how alcohol abuse and alcoholism are different.

We don’t always realize that there’s a problem with alcohol until it’s too late – unfortunately this is the point in which alcohol abuse transitions into alcoholism. Alcohol consumption is somewhat the norm in the United States and amongst many other countries in social situations, gatherings and even at major events. For some, alcohol consumption is no big deal and never turns into an abusive situation far less into alcoholism but for others, the consumption of alcohol leads to physical dependence and a lifetime of consequences that require professional treatment and care in order to get well.

Understanding the Difference

There’s quite a difference between alcohol abuse vs alcoholism and here’s how it goes: Alcohol abuse is moderate use of alcohol that sometimes includes problems with health, the legal system or other matters but has not progressed to a point in which the drinker cannot function without the use of the substance. Alcoholism is a highly progressive disease that results in an individual’s need to drink in order to function, causing life threatening illness and can lead to liver disease, kidney failure and potentially death.

Is it Alcohol Abuse or Alcoholism?

So how can you really tell if your problematic drinking is the result of alcohol abuse or if it’s alcoholism? Alcohol abusers differ a bit from alcoholics or those who are fully addicted to alcohol. For instance, if you still show signs of having some control over your use of alcohol then it’s not likely that you suffer from alcoholism—at least not yet!

Alcohol abuse is characterized by:

  • Using alcohol despite known consequences
  • Having a drink even when you say that you won’t
  • Drinking despite legal problems, work problems, relationship problems or other troubles
  • Drinking to relax, de-stress or otherwise mask emotions

Alcoholism is characterized by:

  • An inability to control drinking
  • Drinking to function
  • Drinking to stop feelings of withdrawal such as tremors, shakes, headaches or other hangover effects
  • Drinking instead of taking part in activities that you once enjoyed

If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, it’s important to recognize how bad the problem is early on in order to prevent things from progressing or getting worse. Alcohol abuse vs alcoholism are definitely two different things, but alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholism so it’s important to recognize the warning signs early on and get help when needed. Help is readily available to assist you in your fight.

Call 800-481-6320Who Answers? for immediate help.

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