All too often, people unknowingly lump alcoholism and alcohol abuse into the same category when it comes to alcohol addiction. According to the experts at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, there is a notable distinction between the two. While people who are suffering from alcohol abuse have some ability to limit their self-destructive drinking habits, alcoholism involves a complete loss of control as well as a level of physical dependence characterized by increasing tolerance and symptoms of withdrawal.
Typically, alcohol abuse negatively effects everything from a person’s health, to their relationships and work, and includes the following symptoms:
- Continuously Neglecting Important Responsibilities at Work, School or Home Because Drinking or Hung Over: Ex. Skipping work, failing classes or a lack of contribution to the running of your household
- Using Alcohol in Situations That Can Lead to Physical Harm: Ex. Drinking and driving, or consuming alcohol when taking prescription medications
- Suffering From Legal Issues Brought on by Drinking: Ex. DUI, disorderly conduct, public indecency or battery charges
- Continued Consumption of Alcohol Despite Suffering Interpersonal Relationships: Ex. Consistent fighting surrounding drinking habits, or feelings of neglect felt by family and friends
- Using Drinking as a Way to Cope With Stressful Situations at Work, School or Home: Ex. Drinking to feel better after failing a test, getting into a fight with your boss, or financial troubles
Alcohol abuse can progress into full-blown alcoholism both slowly due to an increasing tolerance, or rapidly because of major life events or family history, and is recognizable by the following symptoms:
- Physical Dependence Characterized by an Increasing Tolerance and Feelings of Withdrawal: Ex. Needing to drink increasing amounts to feel the same effects as before, or drinking to relieve feelings of nausea, anxiety, and irritation and the shaking and headaches brought on by the sobering process
- Inability to Control the Circumstances Surrounding Your Drinking or to Stop Altogether: Drinking despite telling yourself you wouldn’t, not being able to stick to your “just one drink” rule, or not being able to quite even though you want to
- Loss of Interest in Activities Once Enjoyed Because More and More Time is Being Dedicated to Drinking: Inability to spend time at the gym, reading, or socializing with others because all of your time is consumed by the act of drinking, thoughts of drinking, or recuperating from drinking
- Recognition of Consequences Has No Effect on Drinking Habits: Continuing drinking despite recognizing that it is harming your personal relationships, work/school performance and health
If you are concerned about the effects alcohol may be having on your life, call TIME at 561.317.4010 to talk with one of our experienced counselors today, or consider completing the Alcohol Abuse Self-Test by NCADD.