Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcoholism

By: Ed Philips

Alcoholism is a disease involving uncontrollable physical dependence and emotional reliance on alcohol. The sufferer is unable to stay away from drink even when faced with dire consequences in all areas of his life - marriage, work, financial health. It is a chronic disease and often progresses to the point, if untreated, it becomes fatal.

Alcohol abuse is a less severe stage of drinking than alcoholism. The alcohol abuser may still drink excessively and even suffer from health and social consequences, but never entirely loses their control over alcohol as would the true alcoholic.

Do not be fooled by alcohol abuse however, while not as severe as alcoholism, abuse is still not a safe way to indulge in alcohol. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says 18 million Americans abuse alcohol. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all traffic fatalities in the United States. It makes no difference to the families of those victims that the driver was an alcohol abuser or an alcoholic. Alcohol should not have even played a role in the accident.

The true alcoholic is not always easy to spot, but there are signs that can be recognized. Not every person suffering from alcoholism experiences all of these symptoms. Some of these symptoms may be more difficult to notice than others as most alcoholics tend to be secretive about their drinking. Look for these warning signs:

1) Keeping drinking secret from friends and family; drinking alone a lot; hiding the alcohol in unusual places.

2) The inability to stop drinking once started.

3. Have full or partial "blackouts," where the memory of events while drinking isn't complete.

4) Becoming irritated when a habitual drinking ritual, like having a drink after dinner, is interrupted.

5. Leaving behind former hobbies and pleasurable activities.

6) Drinking becomes an urge or a need.

7. The more time without a drink, the more signs irritability are shown.

8) 'Gulping' strong drinks to attain the drunk feeling as quickly as possible.

9. Tolerance levels are reached making it necessary to drink even larger amounts to achieve the needed feeling.

10. Relationships, work, financial troubles increase, sometimes involving legal actions.

11. When no alcohol has been consumed for a while for whatever reason, experiencing symptoms of physical withdrawal - shaking, sweating, and nausea.

If you haven't reached the stage of true alcoholism, but are instead an alcohol abuser you may suffer some of the same symptoms, with the exception of the compulsion to drink and the withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. Alcoholism is also more suspected when a tolerance to alcohol has been built up and when an inability to stop drinking is observed.

If you find yourself wondering if your drinking habit has crossed in to the dangerous areas of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, ask yourself these questions:

- What's the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning? If having a drink ranks in the top 1 or 2, there could be problem.

- Do you feel guilty about your drinking enough to hide it from those who care about you? From your boss, or your spouse, or children?

- Do you often think about how you should cut back on the amount of drinking you do? Have you made failed attempts or goals to stop?

- Do you get annoyed when others mention or, heaven forbid, criticize your special relationship to alcohol?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have already stepped over that line into alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Get help today!

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Discover how to Stop Abusing Alcohol Written by Ed Philips and Quit Alcohol Now.

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