Someone who drinks may not always be an alcoholic but there is a fine line that differentiates the two types of people. Surprisingly, almost half the American population is made up of people who hardly drink at all and never consume alcohol in excess. For this group, they may never even ask themselves whether they have a problem because it is obvious that they don’t.
They might have a glass of wine or champagne occasionally but never really binge drink. For the group of Americans that do drink heavily and often, they may begin to wonder if they have an addiction.
Asking this question can actually be a sign that you are an alcoholic. What is the difference then between someone who enjoys drinking and someone with an alcohol problem? It has to do with the effects that alcohol has on a person’s life and physical and mental health as well as their ability to control their behavior.
Lack Of Moderation Or Control
A person who drinks socially can have a few drinks, about three or four at a time and not be considered an alcoholic. When there are no real consequences to your drinking and it never gets out of hand, it is easy to understand that there is no issue with alcohol.
Someone who drinks heavily but is not an alcoholic will be able to cut back or moderate their behavior whenever they begin to see negative things happening as a result of their drinking. A drinker who can binge drink but also self-correct whenever something goes wrong and return to low-risk drinking has not reached a point of functioning alcoholism.
They are still able to control their drinking habits to a certain extent and are reacting to negative consequences by cutting back on alcohol. When someone who drinks heavily loses the ability to do this, then there is a strong chance that they are a true alcoholic.
Functioning In Spite Of Addiction
Someone who has an alcohol addiction may try to quit or limit their drinking and find that they are incapable of doing so. Alcoholics inevitably return to their normal drinking pattern in spite of the negative effects it is having on their life.
They may be aware that they should cut down but are too physically dependent on the drug to ever really make a lasting change in their habits. A high functioning alcoholic by all outward appearances may seem like they are in control but underneath they are unable to maintain any kind of normal behavior when it comes to drinking.
A functioning alcoholic can find it easier to remain in denial because they might have a certain level or professional or personal success that makes it hard to label them an alcoholic. They can still hold it together at work but there could be other issues that could point to their alcohol problem.
Impact Of Alcoholism
An alcoholic, even someone who is able to function well under the influence, can experience a lot of the impact that drug abuse has on a person’s life. They could begin to behave differently while drunk and become angry or violent.
People might begin to express concern about the way they act while drinking. An alcoholic also might start to engage in risky behavior such as driving drunk which can lead to serious consequences. They could begin to feel guilty about the things they have done but are still unable to moderate their habits and continue engaging in the same problem behavior.
The real difference then, between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic is that a non-alcoholic is able to see the negative impact of alcohol and stop it from continuing. An alcoholic experiences the consequences but cannot stop so they must let their problems accumulate in a downward spiral until they get the help that they need to quit.