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Problem Drinking vs. Alcoholism: Is There a Real Difference

Drug and alcohol addiction is a difficult and harsh prospect. It is also not incredibly easy to understand for those involved and for those observing it. There are a lot of different factors and aspects to it, and a lot of gray areas too. Alcoholism by far is one of the least understood of all addictions, and one of the hardest to identify too.  For instance, between problem drinking vs. alcoholism, is there really any difference?

Because alcohol is a legal substance and is consumed by tens of millions of Americans every day, it can get a little difficult to tell if somebody is an actual alcoholic. Unlike with heroin, where you should never take it, not even once, alcohol is a little more difficult to nail down. Alcohol is a bit different because there are people who take alcohol on a weekly basis or sometimes even daily, and there doesn’t even necessarily have to be something wrong with that. In some cultures, like in Italy, it is actually customary to drink wine every single day with a meal. In other countries, like Germany, there is hardly even a drinking age.

So what really is the difference between problem drinking and alcoholism? Obviously, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is pretty clear on what they have to say about trouble drinking. According to them, if you have more than four or five drinks in one night, that is considered excessive alcohol consumption. And if you have more than seven or eight drinks in one week, that is also considered problem drinking. But when do you draw the line and stop calling your drinking problem drinking and start calling it alcoholism? From the layman’s perspective, it is necessary to get a very good idea of the difference between problem drinking and alcoholism.

How to Tell the Difference in Problem Drinking vs. Alcoholism

The simplest way to put it is that alcoholism is a more serious version of over drinking.  Problem drinking is characterized by very specific things.  But the problem goes much deeper than that. When you really examine it from all of its different facets, alcoholism is clearly indicated by a compulsory and necessary pull towards the substance.  In fact, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people who are actually addicted to alcohol need to drink it every single day or with some kind of regularity. This is to say that a person who is actually an alcoholic will drink on a schedule. They will either drink a lot every day, or they will binge drink, meaning they will go a few days without drinking and then suddenly drink way too much.

As a word of caution here, people need to be very careful when they drink too much. That is usually how alcoholism starts. In fact, alcoholism is merely phasing two of a series of phases started with drinking too much when one does drink. Again, there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol. It’s all about wondering how often one drink and under what circumstances one drinks that make all the difference.

If a person is simply drinking too much when they do drink, they need to simply put in a little bit of discipline on the subject. The best treatment for alcohol addiction is quite different though.

Can alcoholics recover?  Yes, they can.  However, if one actually drinks alcohol on a schedule or with some kind of compulsive consistency, they will need to go to an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center and program to recovery. There is really no other way to address the issue other than that. With the help of a treatment center thankfully, anyone can truly get rid of alcohol addiction once and for all and for good. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call us today at our toll-free number.

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