You’ve noticed significant changes in your son or husband lately. He has more severe mood swings, he’s going out more often after work and you may have even noticed him spending more money on alcohol.
If he is making it really obvious, your loved one may even be drinking more often in front of you or leaving empty bottles around the house.
You know your loved one has a drinking problem, but what kind of problem is it, exactly? You might think talking about alcoholism, alcohol abuse and binge drinking differently is just splitting hairs, but it actually isn’t.
There are distinct differences in the type of problem your loved one is currently struggling with and it’s important for you to be able to know the difference. Let’s take a look at the differences and symptoms of alcoholism (alcohol addiction), alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
What is Alcoholism, or Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholism, or oftentimes referred to as alcohol dependence, is a psychiatric diagnosis in which an individual is physically or psychologically dependent upon drinking alcohol. In 2013, the condition was reclassified as Alcohol Use Disorder.
If your loved one doesn’t seem to enjoy himself or relax without having a drink, it’s possible he’s become dependent on drinking. The NHS estimates that just under one in 10 (8.7%) men in the UK and one in 20 (3.3%) UK women show signs of dependence (sometimes known as “alcoholism”).
Signs of Alcoholism
Like many other drugs, alcohol can be both physically and psychologically addictive. These are some signs to look out for that may suggest your loved one has become dependent on alcohol:
- Your loved one worrying about where his next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around drinking
- Finding he has a compulsive need to drink and it hard to stop once he starts
- Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning
- Feelings of anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings – these can develop because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health
- Suffering from physical withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once your loved one drinks alcohol.
Being dependent on drinking means your loved one feels he’s not able to function without it, that drinking becomes an important, or sometimes the most important, factor in his life.
What is Alcohol Abuse?
This is a psychiatric diagnosis in which there is a constantly recurring harmful use of alcohol despite the negative consequences. However, there’s one major difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
Alcohol addiction refers to a psychological and physical dependency on alcohol. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction may build up a tolerance to the substance, as well as continue drinking even when alcohol-related problems become evident.
Alcohol abusers are not necessarily addicted to alcohol. Abusers are typically heavy drinkers who put themselves into dangerous situations, but don’t need to drink consistently. Certain individuals who abuse alcohol may eventually become dependent on it.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Individuals who suffer from alcohol abuse do not always exhibit the same symptoms. While alcohol abuse symptoms do vary, there are signs and symptoms that can indicate a problem:
- Decreased involvement in extracurricular activities
- Loss of interest in work or school
- Lack of interest in family or friends
- Preoccupation with drinking
- Inability to control drinking
- Erratic behavior
- Violent behavior
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking, or heavy episodic drinking, is drinking alcoholic beverages with the intention of becoming heavily intoxicated over a short period of time.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08 percent or above in about two hours of time. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and women 4 or more drinks in rapid fashion.
Signs of Binge Drinking
Even if your son or husband doesn’t drink every day, he could be a binge drinker if he:
- Regularly drinks more than the low risk alcohol unit guidelines in a single session
- Tends to drink quickly
- Sometimes drinks to get drunk
If you have noticed your loved one has a hard time stopping, he could also have a problem with alcohol dependence.
Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Spirit Mountain Recovery
Whether your loved one is struggling with alcoholism, alcohol abuse or binge drinking that might turn into dependence, we can help. At Spirit Mountain Recovery, we offer remarkable alcohol addiction treatment focused on helping your loved one recover and learn how to live a fulfilling life without alcohol. Contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor.