It can be difficult to tell whether your drinking or your loved one’s drinking has shifted from casual to an alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism. Answering some questions may help to determine an answer. Additionally, it is essential to understand the symptoms, health risks, and treatment options available.
Alcohol use disorder, which includes alcoholism and alcohol addiction, is a type of alcohol use characterized by a lack of control associated with alcohol consumption, preoccupation with alcohol use, a continuation of alcohol use regardless of the consequences it creates, having to drink more to get the same effect at the start of drinking, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drinking is rapidly decreased or stopped. 1
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder, alcohol dependency, or alcoholism, it is crucial to seek a diagnosis. The first step in pursuing a diagnosis is contacting your primary care physician. If they suspect you have a problem, they may refer you to a mental health professional for treatment. 9
It can take a long time to recover from alcohol use disorder, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism. Long-term treatment with a dedicated alcohol rehab program may be the best option to prevent future relapse. It is essential to consult a mental health professional to decide the best option if you or a loved one is struggling with a heavy drinking problem. 10