Am I An Alcoholic? The Difference Between Alcoholism and Casual Drinking

Alcohol bottles in lineMaybe you’ve heard all the stereotypes about alcoholism, and you don’t think you fit the bill. Maybe you’re not currently experiencing homelessness, and you’ve never been in legal trouble due to alcohol usage.

But alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) can look different for different people. If you’re asking yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?” it may be worth investigating your symptoms. When it’s time to seek treatment and support for your recovery, you can turn to the team at Rosecrance.

There is no “typical” alcoholic

There’s no hard-and-fast rule to determine whether or not someone is an alcoholic. Someone who is “functional” or “high-functioning” can still be an alcoholic. They may be successful at work, maintain social relationships, and care for their families.

While some people with alcohol use disorder will get a DUI or find themselves without a home or in trouble with the law, others will appear to be functioning as usual.

Casual drinking vs. problem drinking vs. alcoholism

While 56% of U.S. adults recently reported drinking within the past month (NIH), for most people, this isn’t a problem. Whether or not casual or social drinking develops into alcoholism depends on a number of factors, including genetics.

Casual drinking means an individual only drinks occasionally. They feel under control while drinking and can do so responsibly. Problem drinking refers to more frequent alcohol use, often with unintended results or consequences—but the individual can quit when necessary.

Those with alcohol use disorder (alcoholics) are often unable to stop themselves and may experience a number of problems or consequences from drinking. They typically need support to get and stay sober.

Warning signs you may be an alcoholic

Again, the signs and symptoms of alcoholism may look very different for each individual depending on a variety of factors. But some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Choosing drinking instead of other responsibilities
  • Drinking alone
  • Frequent cravings
  • Feelings of withdrawal (shaking, agitation, nausea, etc.)
  • Inability to stop after one or two drinks
  • Daily consumption of alcohol

In addition, wondering whether you are an alcoholic, or having feelings of guilt when drinking, is a good sign there is a problem.

Seeking help for alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction interferes with your daily life. But even if you think you’ve got the problem under control, alcoholism can have a severe impact on your health and wellbeing.

You owe it to yourself to seek out help and begin your journey to recovery. If you believe you are struggling with alcohol use disorder, call the team at Rosecrance for an assessment at (888) 928-5278.