Identifying the Differences between Problem Drinking and Alcoholism

The types of alcohol consumption—casual drinking, problem drinking, and alcoholism—are all extremely distinct from one another, and each has its own traits. Even though alcohol is an addictive substance, very few individuals develop an addiction to it. 

This is due to the fact that alcohol does not appear to lead to addiction as quickly as some other, riskier drugs, such as potent prescription stimulants, opiate medicines, and methamphetamine. Despite this, alcoholism can cause death and is just as harmful as any other addiction.

Continue reading to learn more about alcoholism and its required treatment.

Problem Drinkers and Alcoholics

Problem drinking and alcoholism are two terms often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. While they both involve drinking too much alcohol, the differences between problem drinking and alcoholism are significant. 

Problem drinking can be defined as drinking alcohol in excess, which can lead to health problems, legal issues, and social issues. Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol, meaning that someone with alcoholism is physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol to function. 

Alcohol is consumed in excess by heavy drinkers and problem drinkers, who also use alcohol to cope with stress or to such a high degree that they start to feel guilty about their drinking. But the capacity to curtail or even quit drinking is what distinguishes a problem drinker from someone with an alcohol use disorder. 

Problem drinkers may later regret some of their inebriated actions, but they also have the option to cut back on their drinking temporarily or even quit altogether. 

They do not battle with the extensive range of physical and psychological symptoms that many people with alcoholism do, nor do they have the obsessive desire to drink every day.


It’s crucial to recognize the elements that contribute to addiction and why they matter to comprehend why some people become dependent on alcohol while others do not. The availability of a drug is the first and most crucial aspect in influencing its popularity and use. 

A substance is more likely to be utilized if it is more readily available. The main reason alcohol and nicotine are some of the most overused drugs worldwide is because of this. It is but one among several, though.

The speed of addiction development is influenced by both internal and environmental factors, with the following being the most crucial:

  • Anatomy and genetics
  • Mental wellness and mood
  • Situations and stress

Treatment for Alcoholism

Only a small percentage of the 15 million Americans who suffer from alcoholism seek treatment. Nevertheless, treatment is successful for those who do make the decision to seek help, regardless of why it doesn’t penetrate into the lives of the majority of addicts. 

In order to help recovering addicts completely wean themselves off of their addiction and find strategies to adjust to a sober life and live within it successfully, alcoholism therapy focuses on creating better drug-free environments for them. 

Addiction treatment is complex, multimodal, and flexible since there are so many ways to be happy while sober. Although alcoholism is a dreadful disease, it is treatable and curable with the right combination of time, patience, and kindness.


It is important to recognize the indicators of problem drinking and alcohol abuse before it escalates into an addiction. Knowing the differences between problem drinking and alcoholism can help people identify when they may need to seek help for their drinking habits. 

American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine offers alcohol rehab in Orange County. We’re a leader in Orange County drug rehabilitation, providing medication-assisted treatment and Intensive outpatient programs. Contact us today to learn more.

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