Alcohol is ubiquitous in modern society. Social drinking is so prevalent and popular that it’s easy to cross the line into alcohol abuse or even addiction. Drinkers must honestly examine their own feelings about drinking and their drinking patterns to determine if they’re abusing alcohol or suffering from alcohol addiction.
Social Drinking vs. Problem Drinking
Social drinking occurs in a clear social context. Examples of social drinking include going out with friends or having a glass of wine with dinner. Because drinking is an accepted, even expected, part of normal social behavior, it can be easy to let drinking habits get out of control.
Drinking becomes a problem when alcohol abuse occurs. Experts agree that alcohol abuse and alcoholism aren’t the same thing. Alcohol abusers retain the ability to place limits on their drinking, and may not feel physically dependent on alcohol. Alcoholics, however, have lost all control and may feel a physical need for alcohol.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse doesn’t always lead to alcoholism, but those who abuse alcohol regularly are at higher risk for developing alcoholism. Alcohol abuse occurs when:
- Abusers habitually neglect responsibilities, at home, school or work, due to alcohol related problems.
- Abusers use alcohol in unsafe ways, such as drinking and driving.
- Abusers keep drinking even if it causes problems in their relationships.
- Abusers experience frequent legal problems related to drinking.
When Abuse Becomes Addiction
Alcoholism is problem drinking at its most caustic. Alcoholics lose all control over their drinking, and experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop.
The primary symptom of alcoholism is the development of a high tolerance for alcohol. Alcoholics find that, as time passes, they need to drink more and more alcohol in order to feel the same effects.
The second biggest sign of alcoholism is physical addiction. Alcoholics experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t drink, including:
- Shakes and trembling
- Loss of appetite
Alcoholics may find that they can’t stop drinking, even though they want to; they’ve lost control over their drinking habits. They may have given up their favorite activities and may be pouring most of their energy and focus into getting another drink. They may be experiencing family and marital problems, damage to other relationships, health problems and psychological problems.
In advanced cases of alcoholism, hallucinations, fever, seizures, disorientation and agitation set in. Alcohol withdrawal is a life threatening condition; those who experience withdrawal symptoms should seek alcohol abuse treatment under the supervision of qualified medical professionals.
Get on the Road to Addiction Recovery
Problem drinking causes serious physical damage; it can ruin careers and savage relationships. Speak to a doctor to get professional help with addiction recovery.