Am I an Alcoholic? The Difference Between Casual Drinking & Alcoholism
Am I an Alcoholic?

Do you ask yourself: Am I an alcoholic?

Millions of people in the UK drink alcohol on a regular basis. They enjoy going to parties or the pub with friends. Many also drink at home, having a glass of wine with dinner or a beer when watching TV. They would say they have a healthy relationship with alcohol, and it is just a part of life. When does casual drinking turn into a problem? How do you know when you have crossed the line from being a person who enjoys a drink on occasion to having a drinking problem?

You may convince yourself you are not the type, with a good job and a happy home life. You like a drink now and then, but you don’t have an issue. People often have an image in their mind of what an alcoholic looks like. They still see the homeless and destitute or the unemployed person, drowning their sorrows. However, alcoholism is an illness affecting all walks of life, from the man on the street to the executive.

Many have claimed to have their drinking under control and can stop whenever they wanted, but alcohol addiction can take over a person’s life, sometimes without them even realising it and anyone can fall under its grip.

Casual drinking, alcohol abuse, & alcoholism

Let’s start with casual drinking. Unless you have religious or personal restrictions, there’s nothing wrong with a few drinks with friends, maybe some wine with dinner, or the occasional drink at a party. The problem starts, though, when you begin abusing the substance.

Many people use the terms “alcohol abuse” and “alcoholism” interchangeably. However, alcoholism refers to alcohol addiction or dependence, where the individual has a physical or psychological compulsion to drink alcohol. Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of behaviour where a person drinks excessively in spite of the negative consequences.

But what is excessive drinking? There are two types:

  1. Heavy drinking – For men under age 65, heavy drinking means having four drinks a day or more than 15 drinks in a week. For women and men over age 65, heavy drinking is more than three drinks a day or more than eight drinks in a week.
  2. Binge drinkingBinge drinking is drinking a large amount of alcohol at one time. For men, it’s defined as five or more drinks within two hours. For women, it’s four or more drinks in that same time frame.

If you keep within moderate alcohol use or social drinking, you consume no greater than fourteen units of alcohol in a week for a man and seven drinks for a woman.

Warning Signs You’re An Alcoholic

If you are concerned you may be drinking to an alcoholic level; then you should look for the signs.

  • Drinking alone and in secrecy
  • Losing interest in other activities that were once enjoyable
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Making drinking a priority over responsibilities, such as employment and family
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (sweating, anxiety, etc.)
  • Extreme mood swings and irritability
  • Feelings of guilt associated with drinking
  • Having a drink first thing in the morning
  • Continuing to drink, despite health, financial and family problems
  • Inability to stop or control the amount of alcohol that’s consumed

Those in the throes of addiction find it hard to stop drinking when they start and cannot control how much they take. They may consume alcohol by themselves in secret and then feel guilty about it. Alcoholics can also experience irritability and mood swings and suffer the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when they stop drinking.

These are just a few of the indicators that you or someone close to you may have a problem with addiction. 


You may be feeling at this point that something is amiss. You might be wondering “Do I have a drinking problem?” To know if you have a drinking problem, you must be completely honest with yourself. Try out our online drink calculator to see if you are drinking too much.

If you are afraid you might be drinking beyond the level of casual consumption and may be an alcoholic, you should consider treatment. Speak to a counsellor or choose alcohol rehab detox at a clinic. It can get you the help you need to get your drinking under control.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Someone To Be An Alcoholic?

How Do You Know If Someone Is An Alcoholic?

Are You A High Functioning Alcoholic?

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In The Body?


Alcohol faq

There Is No Rehab Centre Near Me, What Should I Do?

Whilst location is an important factor for all of us, please understand, that recovery from addiction is a journey, and a commitment and the initial foundations should not be compromised.
This means seeking advice to find the best rehab centre and therapeutic program that fits you (or your loved one) personally.

Clearly, it’s vital that you find a rehab clinic that offers the right treatments for you. Don’t worry, you can call the Detox Plus UK hotline today, and our advisors will talk you through the different options. This allows you to figure out what treatments will benefit you the most so you can find rehab centres that suit your needs.

When we talk about going to rehab, this assumes that you’re willing to pack your bags and move into a rehab centre. This is known as residential rehab, and it basically means that you live in an environment that’s closed off from the outside world.

It’s been proven that this benefits patients as it restricts you from coming into contact with things or people that trigger your addiction. As a result, it allows the people there to carry out detox treatment without worrying about relapses.

We strongly advise that you give us a call if you’re having trouble figuring out which option is best for you. We’ll talk to you on the phone to help come up with a treatment plan that benefits you the most. As a result, you’ll soon know the best course of action to kick your addiction.

We offer locations for rehab centres nationwide, call our team on 02072052734 or view our locations for Rehab centres

I Can’t Afford Private Residential Treatment. What Should I Do?

Contact your own GP and accurately & honestly explain to him or her your addiction problems and express your desire for help and treatment. Your GP should activate your local ADAT Addictions team who will offer you whatever NHS/Social and treatment routes are available. You should also attend AA or NA recovery groups for support and guidance.

How Long Is The Average Residential Stay in Rehab?

Residential stays vary from between 7-28 days depending on the specifics of your circumstances and historical usage. e.g. An average alcohol detox may last 7 days, with a further 2-3 weeks in the therapeutic program to resolve the psycho-social and behavioural aspects of addiction. As above, most experience the best outcomes and lasting long term sobriety following a minimum 28-day residential stay

What medication is used for alcohol addiction?

Medication can include replacement drugs such as lorazepam or phenobarbital, which are administered in tapering doses to help with alcohol withdrawals. Drugs such as Naltrexone, Disulfiram or Acamprosate can help prevent a return to alcohol use.

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