Alcoholism vs Alcohol Abuse: What’s the Difference?

man having a drink

We live in stressful times. And during these stressful times, it is but natural to pick up habits that aren’t necessarily the healthiest. It’s how we as humans try to cope with the anxiety that comes with existence. 

Alcohol consumption is one such example. But at what point does drinking alcohol turn into alcoholism? And is it the same thing as alcohol abuse?

Navigating the terminology can feel complicated, and prevent us from addressing problems we’re not even certain exist. So, let’s take a look at the differences between alcoholism vs alcohol abuse and understand how to determine when alcohol consumption becomes a problem.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism refers to an addiction to alcohol. It is a state in which the individual becomes dependant on consuming alcohol. Here are a few signs that you or someone you love has developed an alcohol addiction:

  • You are preoccupied with finding your next drink
  • You find it very difficult to stop drinking once you’ve started
  • You feel extremely anxious or depressed when you are not drinking, or when you haven’t had a drink for a few days
  • You drink alcohol every time you feel stressed, depressed or anxious
  • You experience constant cravings for alcohol
  • Your consumption of alcohol is constantly increasing to achieve the same effects as before

If you experience three or more of these symptoms, do consider seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist to get the help you need.

Alcoholism vs Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of drinking followed by negative consequences. It is not necessarily accompanied by the immense cravings, the withdrawal symptoms or the consistency of consumption noticed in alcoholism. 

Someone can be said to abuse alcohol if their consumption is generally followed by troubling consequences. This could include breaking the law, dysfunctional relationships, getting into fights, and other recurring issues. 

While alcoholism is a psychiatric condition, alcohol abuse is not. Someone who abuses alcohol may also go on to develop an addiction, but the major distinction is in the fact that by itself it is not a recognized disorder. 

Getting the Help You Need

Not all alcohol abusers develop a full-blown addiction, however, it does put them at high-risk. If you or someone you know does develop an addiction, do consider getting checked into a rehab facility. Whether it’s a facility in New York or Drug rehab Scottsdale, getting the help you need is the first step towards recovery!


You Can Get Through This

The differences between alcoholism vs alcohol abuse don’t matter so much, outside the realm of getting a diagnosis. If you recognize that your consumption of alcohol is causing you or the people around you pain, it’s time to take a step back and reflect. 

As the saying goes “consume alcohol as much as you like, but don’t let alcohol consume you”.

Alcohol addiction is something many of us struggle with on a day-to-day basis. Help spread awareness about the symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse by sharing this article through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or any other social media site!