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Gaining knowledge of problems with alcohol is the first serious step towards recovery. When it relates to problems with alcohol, you will encounter two terms, “alcoholism” and “alcohol abuse” frequently. There are subtle differences between the two. Alcohol abuse is a serious condition, and it’s frequently difficult to tell when your recreational drinking has evolved to something more problematic. Despite the fact that the terms are frequently interchanged, alcoholism and alcohol abuse each have their own set of identities and features.

While both alcoholism and alcohol abuse can have negative consequences in a person’s life, knowing the differences can help you determine the degree of your addiction and the best treatment option.

Alcoholism is the most serious form of alcohol abuse, characterized by an inability to control one’s drinking whereas alcohol abuse is any usage of alcohol that is not safe; greater than safe dose, underage use, use in certain health conditions where the health condition can worsen. Alcohol abuse may or may not imply alcohol addiction.

Some ethnicities or demographics have been harmed more than others by alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Acute causes of death due to alcohol like suicide and crash are more common with alcohol abuse and in teens whereas chronic health problems like liver and cardiovascular conditions occur more with alcoholism. Some differences in alcohol misuse may be attributable to societal conditioning, according to statistics.

  • Men account for 71.4 percent of all alcohol-related deaths.
  • Every year, 3,504 people in the US under the age of twenty-one die as a result of alcohol abuse; 77.5 percent of them are men.
  • Chronic alcohol usage is more than twice as likely to kill people aged 50 to 64 as acute alcohol-related causes.
  • Teens who die from alcohol abuse are more than 50 times more likely to die from acute events like suicide or vehicle accidents than from chronic diseases like liver disease.
  • In between the ages of 50 and 64, 34.7 percent of alcohol-related deaths occur.
  • Under the age of 35, 18.1 percent of alcohol-related deaths occur.
  • Between the ages of 20 and 34, 58.1 percent of those killed in alcohol-related car accidents

Alcoholism poses a significant long-term health risk in men and women. 

  • Liver illness is 2.12 times whereas cirrhosis is 2.26 times more probable in people suffering from alcoholism.
  • High blood pressure is 2.06 times whereas cardiovascular disease is 2.26 times more likely in alcoholism.
  • Nerve injury is 2.77 times whereas p Pancreatitis is 2.18 times more.

In comparison to moderate or light drinkers, they were also at a higher risk for several prevalent health issues. The following were heavy drinkers:

  • Depression is 85 percent more likely in alcoholism.
  • There is a 61 percent increased chance of having a weaker immune system.
  • Seizures are 73 percent more likely in this group.
  • Cancer is 48 percent more prevalent in people with alcoholism.

Alcohol abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, happens when a person’s habit of consuming alcohol causes harm to their health, relations, and capacity to work.

Any drug taken or consumed beyond the safe dose and other than the primary purpose of intent can be termed as abuse. Alcohol abuse is when alcohol is taken by a certain age group or in a certain health condition in harmful doses. Excessive drinking and binge drinking, as well as the use of alcohol while pregnant and by those under the age of 21, are all examples of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse doesn’t necessarily imply addiction as it could be for one odd time or more frequently. When people abuse alcohol more frequently, they might develop physical and mental dependence on it, leading to alcohol addiction. 

In the United States, over 25 percent of persons over the age of 18 admit to binge drinking in the previous month, with 6.3 percent drinking heavily.

Alcohol consumption is harmful and can lead to difficulties with one’s health and well-being. When someone abuses alcohol, they are likely to encounter a number of negative consequences in their lives, including:

  • Being absent from school or work
  • Isolating from friends and family to drink alone.
  • Depression
  • Violence and Anger 
  • Financial difficulties
  • Dangerous behavior (like driving and drinking)
  • Engage in unsafe sex
  • The possibility of being arrested as a result of undesirable behavior

Alcohol abusers aren’t necessarily alcoholics or addicts. They are, however, on a precipice without intervention.


Alcoholics often believe that they are unable to function normally without the use of alcohol. This can cause a slew of problems, affecting professional aspirations, personal relations, and general health. Persistent alcohol abuse can have dangerous negative effects that grow over time and cause serious consequences.

You shouldn’t suffer in silence from alcoholism. Many treatment methods are available to assist you in overcoming alcoholism and achieving long-term sobriety.

The following are some of the most common indications of alcoholism that will help you identify your alcohol use problem:

  • Drinking too much alcohol and not being able to control it
  • When you stop drinking, you have a strong desire for alcohol.
  • Putting alcohol ahead of personal obligations
  • Feeling compelled to keep drinking
  • Investing a significant sum of money in alcohol
  • Behavioral changes after consuming alcohol

Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism refer to unhealthy drinking practices, however, they are not synonymous. Knowing the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism can aid in the development of a treatment strategy.

The following are some key distinctions that will help you find out if you are suffering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse:

Dependence: Alcohol dependence is a significant characteristic of alcoholism, however not everyone who consumes alcohol is dependent on it.

The term “dependence” refers to a person’s physical dependence on alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, sleeplessness, irritability) and intense desires to drink are common among alcoholism.

Severity: Alcohol abuse is considered a less severe form of alcohol use disorder. People who abuse alcohol are more likely to develop a more significant drinking problem if they do not receive treatment, which can lead to increased tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Signs: Individuals who use alcohol are less prone than those who are alcoholics to feel reliant on it. This might lead to a variety of physical symptoms of usage.

Aside from physical dependence, important indicators of alcoholism include an inability to regulate one’s drinking, a desire for alcohol, and continuing to drink despite unfavorable mental and physical health consequences.

Treatment: Because the severity of the diseases varies, the sort of treatment needed for alcohol abuse may vary from that required for alcoholism. Alcohol detox will almost certainly be required for those who are addicted to the substance.

However, a mix of behavioral treatment, medications, and support networks can effectively cure alcohol-related disorders.

Alcoholism, unlike alcohol abuse, is a persistent physical and mental illness that can affect every aspect of a person’s life.

Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, refers to severe cases of alcohol abuse. The amount of alcohol consumed and the frequency with which it is consumed differs from person to person.

The following are some examples of how a person can utilize alcohol, turn from alcohol abuse to addiction or alcoholism, and how it can affect their health in the long-term:

  • Some people drink to deal with emotions or stress.
  • Continuing to drink despite the fact that drinking interferes with your employment, school, or relationships
  • Adolescent experimental drinking
  • Consuming alcohol while pregnant
  • Taking significant risks while intoxicated (for example, driving drunk)
  • To achieve more strong effects, combine alcohol with a prescribed or illicit substance.
  • Consuming more alcohol or for way too long than intended on a regular basis
  • Binge drinking is possibly due to an underlying binge-eating behavior.



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