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When enjoyed responsibly, alcohol is often a common addition to social settings and festive gatherings. Many people enjoy an occasional glass of wine with dinner, champagne on New Year’s Eve, or a few beers while watching the game with friends.  However; there’s a fine line where the fun stops and the problems start. Alcoholism, addiction, and problematic drinking are not to be taken lightly.

However, not all heavy drinkers are the same. Problem drinkers and alcoholics are two very distinct categories; while they do share some similar attributes, there are clear differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look at the details.People Playing Guessing Game at Dinner Party

Problem Drinking & Alcoholism Are Both Bad For Your Health

Problem drinking and alcoholism are both forms of excessive alcohol consumption, which is why they are each a major threat to your health. The truth of the matter is that drinking binges can lead to an array of immediate and long-term health problems, including;

  • Liver disease, pancreatitis, and various forms of cancer.
  • Stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Heart disease and cardiovascular troubles such as increased heart rate.
  • Brain damage.
  • Damaged immune systems.
  • Vitamin deficiencies and dehydration.
  • Headaches.
  • Increased risk of falls and accidents.
  • Lost memory.
  • Vomiting and potential choking hazards, particularly in sleep.

This is in addition to the repercussions of making poor decisions. Therefore, any form of excessive binge drinking, which is defined as consuming more than 7 drinks per week for women or 14 drinks for men, must not be ignored.

However, the long-term path of the problem drinker and the alcoholic can be vastly different.

Problem Drinking

In many ways, problem drinkers are merely social drinkers that take it too far by bingeing. While the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption remain, many people that fall into this category can avoid the threat of alcohol dependence.

It is believed that over 70% of the population will endure a period of problem drinking (usually in the late teens and early 20s) before consciously overcoming this issue once they mature. The reasons for making those changes can range from responding to a bad experience to simply growing up.

In the vast majority of cases, willpower and changing priorities are enough to tackle the issue, the need for formal support isn’t required. Furthermore, many recovering problem drinkers find that they are able to establish a healthy long-term relationship with alcohol – this is something most alcoholics cannot.


Alcoholism is far more than merely drinking excessively in social situations or binging. It is a dependency in which the individual feels as though they cannot get through life without the help of alcohol. Some of the ways the obsession can manifest itself are by drinking daily, repeating unwanted patterns, using alcohol as a reward, and making bad decisions like drink driving.

Man with bottle of alcohol at wooden bar counteMany alcoholics are in denial about their problems. Likewise, a large percentage feel helpless in their battle to cut back on alcohol even after accepting that they have a problem. In truth, most alcoholics need professional help during their recovery. Help can come in the form of support groups, counseling, medically supervised detox programs, and time in alcohol rehab centers.

Alcoholism is a disease of the body, mind, and spirit.  It is not a lack of will power or a sign of poor character any more than cancer or diabetes is. The alcoholic is not at fault for their disease but, they are responsible for addressing it.  The good news is that alcoholism, unlike cancer or diabetes, is the only disease that can be put into irreversible remission by the suffer through an unyielding resolve and commitment to sobriety. Enjoying a healthy relationship with alcohol once one has become an alcoholic is not an option.  A lifetime commitment to sobriety is the only solution.

The Final Word

Any form of excessive drinking is dangerous and should be treated ASAP. Whether you’ve noticed alcoholic tendencies in yourself or a loved one, today is the day to begin recovery.