Renaissance Ranch

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcoholism

Oct 24, 2012

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are two different problems that people can face when they drink excessively. Both are damaging to one’s physical health and lifestyle but alcoholism has a more lasting effect than alcohol abuse.


Alcohol abuse is when drinking leads to problems, but not necessarily addiction. Some examples of problems caused by alcohol abuse as listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) include :


– Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

— Drinking in dangerous situations, such as drinking while driving or operating machinery.

— Legal problems related to alcohol, such as being arrested for drinking while driving or for physically hurting someone while drunk.

– Continued drinking despite ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by drinking.

Alcohol abuse can have a very damaging effect on a person’s life, but can be controlled and changed if a person so chooses. The major problem with alcohol abuse is that it can lead to alcoholism, which is a disease that is more difficult to cure.

Alcoholism is a disease that occurs when the body develops a dependency to alcohol. A person with alcoholism will have trouble functioning without consuming alcohol and will feel unable to regulate the amount of alcohol they consume. The main indicators of alcoholism as listed by CDCPare:

– A strong craving for alcohol.

— Continued use despite repeated physical, psychological, or interpersonal problems.

— The inability to limit drinking.

Alcoholism can lead to a myriad of physical, mental and emotional problems that greatly diminish a person’s quality of life. One of the major signs of impending alcoholism is the continued occurrence of alcohol abuse. This is just one of the reasons why alcohol abuse should be avoided at all times: so its damaging effects can’t take root to cause a chronic disease.

What are the Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a disease and it is labeled as such because there are recognizable symptoms, causes and methods of treatment. Alcoholism is not curable, but there are solutions. The different stages of alcoholism classify the alcoholic and where they are in the development of their disease.

Stage 1: Drinking socially

This can come with no alcoholic conduct and can be anywhere from two drinks a day. It is not uncommon to want to unwind at the end of a hard day with a cold beer or a glass of wine.

Stage 2: Drinking to decrease stress and tension

This is one of the first sign of alcoholic behavior, in which the need for a drink starts to become a habit.

Stage 3: Daily or frequent drinking to relieve stress

One of the most crucial stages of alcoholism is drinking to relieve or run away from feelings, stress, or guilt. This becomes the only way that you can imagine getting through your day, being able to get a drink as soon as you clock out.

Stage 4: Alcohol dependence

This is when blackouts become common, excuses to drink, reluctant to discuss or explain your drinking, actions change, and lying and stubbornness come into play.

Stage 5: Obsession with alcohol

This is when all you can think about is drinking, you will stop eating because it might ruin your buzz, your health will start to diminish, you will start to grow angry toward anyone who tries to get in the way of your drinking, and your emotions run wild.

These stages of alcoholism can differ from person to person who are struggling with an alcohol dependence problem. No matter which order they come in every alcoholic will show at lease one of these signs.

Denial will start to develop within the alcoholic when going through these stages, and the need to regulate everything will rise is in their behavior. They will start placing blame on others and playing the role of the victim, this is a form of manipulation.

Telltale Signs You Have an Alcohol Problem

Except during a few years of Prohibition in the early 1900s, alcohol has been part of American tradition for hundreds of years, offering opportunities for social interaction and thirst-quenching satisfaction. What makes it a problem is when people drink so much that they become unaware of their actions or out of control, causing harm or pain to those around them.

Some find alcohol is a preferable escape from everyday stresses, while others drink for social reasons, and still others simply drink because they enjoy the taste of alcohol. Unfortunately for many, this habit can become an addiction and overconsumption leads to alcoholism. It is a problem that most people don’t see coming, but they don’t realize it until it’s already too late.

Helping a person experiencing an alcohol problem can be a complicated and delicate subject. However, it is often better to act on it as early as possible and seek help if you need it.

Here are some common signs that your casual drinking may have turned into alcoholism:

Drinking Alcohol Becomes a Top Priority

People who neglect other important people and tasks in life in favor of drinking, such as family or work, are often either already alcoholics or are dangerously close to becoming one. When you ignore the things you should do and your responsibilities or commitments to your family, friends, work, school, and self, or when frequent hangovers prevent you from getting things done, then you have an alcohol problem.

Including Alcohol in Your Daily Routine

There are a lot of beverage choices out there, from water and soda to tea and juice. One sign that you could potentially be an alcoholic is when you find yourself drinking alcohol in almost every situation, even without an obvious reason or occasion. Alcoholism also contributes to some dangerous personal habits, such as drink while driving; work with tools while you’re drunk; or mix alcoholic drinks with your medications.

Noticing an Increase in Tolerance Level

Have you noticed that you can drink a lot more alcohol before you start to feel some of the effects? Unfortunately it’s not a point of pride (though many people often compliment those who can ‘hold their liquor’), it’s an early sign of alcoholism. Tolerance is often part of the first stage of alcohol dependence.

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

An obvious sign of alcoholism is when you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms whenever you are sober. If drinking relieves problems like headaches, body tremors, or other issues, this can be a red flag that your body has become dependent on alcohol.

At Renaissance Ranch Outpatient, we offer an alcohol abuse recovery program to help you get sober and stay that way. Contact us now and see how our solutions can help you escape the powerful chains of alcohol addiction.