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What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

How can I tell the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism?

When is it Alcohol Abuse?

While alcohol abuse and alcoholism may seem similar, there is actually a distinction between the two. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes alcohol abuse as the following:

  • Problems in personal relationships
  • Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at school, work, or home
  • Legal problems resulting from drinking alcohol, such as a DUI or DWI
  • Drinking in dangerous situations, such as operating machinery or driving a car or boat

In other words, when every aspect of a person’s life is influenced by alcohol, that person is struggling with alcohol abuse.

When is it Alcoholism?

Heavy drinking for long periods of time can lead to alcoholism. The CDC characterizes alcoholism as the following:

  • Inability to limit or control alcohol consumption
  • Physical withdrawal after one stops drinking alcohol for a period of time(shaking, seizures, tremors, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, hallucinations etc.)
  • Alcohol cravings

In other words, alcoholism is the physical dependency on alcohol to function.

Doctor’s Warning: No one who drinks heavily should ever attempt to quit “cold turkey” Attempting to quit drinking without a proper medical detox can result in seizures, stroke, cardiac arrest, and death.

If you or someone you care about has a drinking problem, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to listen, confidentially, 24/7.

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