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Imagine a spectrum. On one end is your Aunt Helen. She drinks half a glass of white zinfandel on Thanksgiving and you can tell she’s a little tipsy. On the other end is Uncle Bud. He’s hasn’t touched the stuff in years and will be the first to tell you that he knows he can’t handle even one drink.
It’s the middle that can be tricky.
The person in the middle is not physically addicted to alcohol. They don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink. At the same time, alcohol is starting to cause problems. Maybe it’s being late to work. Or spending too much time or money at the bar. Or even just a realization that they’re using alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety.
Let’s get down to it: We’re talking about the difference between being a social drinker, a problem drinker and a true alcoholic.
Identifying a Problem Drinker vs. an Alcoholic: Signs to Look For
Appearances mean nothing. We all know alcoholics who have good jobs, homes and families. We all know non-drinkers who really need to get their act together.
It’s a person’s relationship with alcohol that matters. Problem drinkers may be experiencing difficulties in their lives because of drinking, but are not physically dependent on alcohol. It might be hard to limit their drinking or cut back, but it is still possible. Alcoholics, on the other hand, are powerless over their drinking.
Signs of problem drinking include:
- Drinking alone
- Feeling guilty after drinking
- An inability to stop drinking once you’ve started
- Preferring drinking friends over non-drinking friends
- Drinking to alleviate anxiety or stress
- Financial or employment difficulties because of alcohol
- Experiencing blackouts
- Taking risks with your life or the lives of others
Some problem drinkers will either stop drinking or eventually scale back and become social drinkers. Others will stay where they’re at, risking the potential health damage that comes with heavy or binge drinking. Others will lose control and slip into alcoholism.
It’s very easy—and common—for people to convince themselves that they are still in control when, in fact, they have progressed beyond the point where they have the power to recover on their own.
Getting the Right Kind of Help
Once people lose control over their alcohol consumption, they need help—which is a science-based reality, not a sign of weakness. The alcohol treatment program at The Raleigh House in Denver, Colorado, takes a holistic approach to recovery, using therapy, nutrition, exercise, peer support and even community involvement. The goal isn’t just to be alcohol free. It’s to live a full and interesting life. Fill out our form or call today for more information on launching the next phase of your life.