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Am I an alcoholic? The difference between casual drinking and alcohol addiction

March 22, 2018

The stereotypical of view of the alcoholic as a homeless, jobless bum with a bottle always in hand can be true, and it can also be a completely different picture from the reality for many alcoholics. There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ alcoholic, and you might not fit the stereotype at all. You might think you’re in perfect control of your drinking because you only drink at night and you can still hold down a job and pretend to your family that you only drink half as much as you really do.

But if you really can’t stop, no matter how much you try, you’re still an alcoholic.

What’s the difference between just enjoying a casual drink, alcohol abuse and alcoholism?

Most people can enjoy a casual night out with friends, have one or two drinks and then stop, and they might not drink again for several days. They enjoy a drink, but they don’t NEED it.

With someone who abuses alcohol, they have a pattern of drinking heavily, perhaps even to the point of blacking out, and of out of character behaviour due to the alcohol. They can’t stop this behaviour even when they know all about the negative consequences for their health, and about the effects it can have on their family and friends.

An alcoholic, on the other hand, is dependent on alcohol, and has a compulsion to drink. If they try to stop, their brain and body have become so used to alcohol being present that they begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms, and the only way – in their mind – to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms is to have another drink.


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