What is alcoholism?

    It can be considered a dependence on drinking that includes a craving for drinks of choice combined with withdrawal symptoms when unavailable. Usually, over time, increasingly greater quantities of drink are needed to provide the same level of enjoyment or craving relief.

A problem drinker can have any, all or none of the behavior symptoms of alcohol abuse. Usually the two go hand in hand, but not always the way you might think. Although there may be clinical differences, for our purposes alcohol addiction can be considered as essentially the same as alcoholism.

The following Venn diagram that gives a pictorial representation of the relationships between frequency of drinking, volume of drinking and self abusive behavior.

This indicates that if someone drinks to excess most days, they are probably alcoholic. However, there is more to it than that.

A quart of whiskey a day - too much?

For years my problem drinker could down a quart of Jack Daniels every night and still get up and get to work on time the next morning, with no signs of hangover. In her case, the abuse symptoms were more along the lines of partying with her friends until she passed out. I remember one birthday party she threw for herself where she specifically invited me not to attend as I wasn’t any fun to have around. Ouch!

Ultimately, the distinction between drink abuse and alcoholism are not that important. The key question to ask is this:

Is my drinker’s behavior negatively affecting me, or my family?

If the answer is yes, even a qualified yes, then you have a problem. It is our hope you can find some useful answers to that problem in these pages.

As a person who is concerned about someone that appears to have a drinking problem, whether or not they fit a clinical definition of a problem drinker is not that important. What is important is that if their drinking behavior is negatively affecting their lives or the lives of those around them.

If you want pursue the question in more depth, try this Alcoholism Test.

Common Questions

What are the types of alcoholism?.

What are the causes of alcoholism?.

What are the stages of alcoholism?.

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