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. 

Self-Assessment

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?

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