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Is It Alcohol Use Disorder or Problem Drinking?

Many people in the world drink recreationally. For most, this means that they may drink until they get a little “tipsy” and enjoy the company of others. For people with alcohol addiction, also called alcohol use disorder (and, formerly, alcoholism), drinking involves more than getting “tipsy.” In fact, for many people, once they have started drinking, they have trouble stopping. Alcohol use disorder can lead to health, relationship, and even financial or legal problems.

How Much is Too Much?

Many people may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol but don’t realize it. In many social circles, it’s acceptable to drink to excess regularly. Some people learn to binge-drink in college and continue the “habit.” Others may get drunk, but “only” on the weekend. There are a lot of ways people try to prevent meeting the “definition” of "alcoholic".

To have an alcohol use disorder, however, you don’t have to meet a narrow definition of “alcoholic.” The question is, what is your relationship with alcohol? Has drinking caused you problems? Do you have trouble “cutting yourself off” or quitting drinking altogether?

There is no one definition of “too much.” If you are trying to control your drinking and haven’t been able to do so, you probably have an alcohol use disorder.

Alcoholism vs. “Problem Drinker”

Alcoholism is a term that describes a person who is addicted to alcohol. Addiction means being both physically and emotionally addicted to alcohol. People with an addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit “cold turkey.”

However, anyone who has trouble controlling their alcohol use (or behavior, when they are drinking) may have an alcohol use disorder. People often have denial about their drinking behavior. A common belief is they don’t fit their perception of what an “alcoholic” is. There are many stereotypes about derelict alcoholics in the media. However, anyone of any age, class, race, or gender can have an alcohol use disorder.

If you want to get help, it doesn't matter how much you use, if you use more than alcohol, or if you have only been drinking for a few years. If you want help and are willing to follow suggestions, you can recover.

Consequences of Alcohol Use Disorder

If you have a troubled relationship with alcohol, then it has already probably caused you problems. Decisions people make while drunk can be costly. You may have relationship problems, troubles at work, or legal issues such as DUI’s.

Problems caused by alcohol use usually escalate if you continue drinking.

If you are addicted to alcohol, ceasing its use will also cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which are best dealt with in a clinical setting.

Get Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder

If you or somebody you love has a toxic relationship with alcohol, help is available. We’re here to help you plot a path to recovery, with the latest evidence-based detox and treatment methods. We offer a holistic, peaceful environment to begin your new journey. Get in touch at US (949) 279-1376 • MX (612) 153-5726 to learn more about how we can help.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.