How often do you drink? Do you have concerns that you might be drinking too much and too often? Are you questioning your drinking habits and wondering, Am I an alcoholic?” To find out if you need to be concerned about your drinking, let’s take a look at alcoholism, alcohol use disorder, heavy drinking, and the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction.
What Is Alcoholism?
It is common to use different terms when talking about alcohol abuse, such as alcoholism and alcohol use disorder. Even though many people interchange these terms to refer to alcohol addiction, they do have different meanings.
Alcoholism generally means a condition where a person is dependent on alcohol. They drink simply because their body craves the feelings brought about when drinking. Additionally, people suffering from alcoholism may not drink every day and could do several days between drinking until the craving becomes too strong to ignore.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is also referred to as alcohol addiction. People with alcoholism can develop AUD if they continue drinking and abusing alcohol. The level of addiction can range from mild to severe depending on several factors, such as:
- How Long Alcohol Has Been Abused
- The Amount of Alcohol Consumed
- Whether Alcohol Is Being Mixed With Other Substances
- The Frequency One Drinks
What Is a Heavy Drinker?
Have you ever asked yourself; “Am I An Alcoholic?” A heavy drinker falls into one of two types of drinkers. The first one is where they drink two or more drinks every day or have 14 or more drinks each week.
The second type of heavy drinker is called a binge drinker. Binge drinkers consume four or more drinks in under two hours. Binge drinkers are considered heavy drinkers if they drink 14 or more drinks each week.
How Is Heavy Drinking Different from Alcoholism?
People often assume that if someone is a heavy drinker, they suffer from alcoholism or have AUD. However, this assumption is flawed because heavy drinkers are not always dependent on alcohol, nor do they always have an addiction to it.
Conversely, those that are dependent on alcohol or have AUD could also be considered heavy drinkers. The key distinction is what occurs once drinking stops, and the alcohol is removed from the body.
When heavy drinkers stop drinking, they go through withdrawal, like feeling nauseous, dizzy, and having other hangover symptoms. But once the alcohol is entirely removed, they feel normal and do not experience cravings for alcohol. If they abstained from drinking, they would reduce health risks associated with heavy drinking, such as liver disease, heart disease, and hypertension.
On the other hand, when those with alcoholism or AUD stop drinking, they will start to experience cravings for alcohol. Furthermore, their withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they will drink just to avoid going through withdrawal. Essentially, the dependence or addiction to alcohol is so strong they need to drink just to function.
Am I An Alcoholic? Warning Signs to Know
Both alcoholism and AUD have specific warning signs that could indicate you are an alcoholic, including:
- Experiencing Blackouts – Not remembering what you did when drinking or waking up in strange places.
- Family History – There is a family history of alcoholism or AUD that puts you at a higher risk of developing the conditions as well.
- Frequent Binge Drinking – Drinking 6 or more drinks each time you binge drink.
- Cravings for Alcohol – You crave alcohol at any time during the day.
- Looking Forward to Drinking – You can only think about drinking.
- Day Drinking – Drinking from when you get up until you go to bed.
- Lack of Hygiene – You go days without bathing, changing your clothes, or brushing your teeth.
- Unable to Stop Drinking – You cannot stop drinking once you do until you pass out.
- Drinking Is Your Top Priority – Being able to drink takes priority over your job, family, friends, and activities you once enjoyed.
- Financial Problems – You are spending most or all of your money on alcohol.
- Secretly Drinking – You attempt to hide your drinking from concerned family and friends.
- Drinking to Treat a Hangover – Rather than experience a hangover, you drink to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
- Looking for Reasons to Drink – You look for opportunities to encourage drinking by others to justify your drinking.
In addition to these warning signs, those suffering from alcoholism and AUD can exhibit behavioral and emotional problems. For example, people with alcohol dependence or AUD will anger quickly, become highly defensive, or even violent when questioned about their drinking.
Alcohol Use Disorder Detox and Rehab in Atlanta
Now that you know more about alcoholism and alcohol use disorder, you can answer the question, “Am I an alcoholic?” If you believe you are or feel like you are on the path to developing alcohol dependence and addiction, you can get the help you need at Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta.
We offer personalized alcoholism and alcohol use disorder detox and rehab treatment programs for teens, young adults, and adults of all ages. For further information about our treatment programs or to start treatment, please feel free to contact us by calling 908-489-5564 today!