What is the Difference between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

When someone has an alcohol addiction, the majority of us would normally use the term “alcoholic” without being able to distinguish if the condition is alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and both these terms are generally used to define either case.

However, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are two completely different patterns of consuming alcohol.

There are several differences between alcohol abuse and alcoholism, as the types of alcohol consumption differ between both definitions. 

The Different Patterns of Alcohol Consumption

Drink awareness and adhering to the recommended amount of alcohol intake normally present no serious issues but when drinking evolves and gets out of control there are two distinctive patterns for consuming the substance.

Alcohol abuse is related to the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages referred to commonly as binge drinking (when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short space of time) or heavy drinking, which means just that: consumption of more than what is recommended regularly.

Alcohol abuse can have effects on people’s lives, often causing problems with relationships, work, or studies and putting strain on normal activities.

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is when someone develops strong cravings for alcohol and is unable to control how much is consumed.

They develop an urgent need to drink alcohol to function but experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they stop. Alcoholism is recognized as a legitimate medical condition and should be managed by healthcare specialists. 

If you understand and recognize these differences, it may help you to take the necessary action to address the matter when a loved one is at risk.

There are different signs and symptoms as well as possible causes and risks and learning the characteristics of each disorder is valuable information when assessing both conditions.

Does Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Have the Same Symptoms?

There are similarities in the symptoms relating to these alcohol problems but what distinguishes them is the impact they have on someone’s life, their severity, and frequency.

It is certain that alcohol abuse may be less severe than alcoholism but can still cause serious problems. On the other hand, alcoholism is a very grave condition and can become life-threatening which requires the intervention of professional treatment.

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse 

Symptoms of Alcoholism 

What are the Main Causes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

Numerous causes lead to alcohol abuse and alcoholism and can be complex to determine as each person is different, and causes may vary.

Some reasons may be more obvious than others, but those that are considered to be potential factors are listed below:

Causes of Alcohol Abuse

Causes of Alcoholism

Anyone with either of these conditions may have a combination of these causes which makes the root problem very personalized and complex. 

Alcohol Detox and Rehabilitation

Alcohol abuse should be addressed before it leads to alcoholism, which is a debilitating and eventually fatal condition.

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for alcohol withdrawal to help individuals struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, which include rehabilitation and alcohol detoxification.

If you are wondering if you are developing a risk for alcohol abuse and not sure if rehab or a detox program is necessary, you should consider if any of the following signs apply to you as a result of your drinking to determine whether you need help.

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