There is a fine line between heavy drinking and alcoholism.

Heavy Drinking versus Alcoholism - man drinking alcohol - summit bhcMany people tiptoe that line and struggle with trying to determine whether they might have developed an addiction. Addiction is a disease: someone who has become addicted to a substance like alcohol has lost their power of choice in drinking.

Another sign of addiction is isolating oneself from friends and family in order to hide drinking or the effects of drinking. Some people enjoy drinking with friends, and they may drink heavily when they are out with others. But if you notice that you feel uncomfortable with others seeing how much you drink or simply would rather drink alone, you may be heading toward an addiction.

Drinking to escape from stress, depression, or other strong emotions signals a potential addiction.  If you notice that you’re using your feelings, moods, or stressful situations as an excuse to drink heavily, you are using alcohol to self-medicate. Because drinking doesn’t solve any problems in the long-term and tends to make things worse, using alcohol to self-medicate will most likely lead to addiction.

Suffering intense withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking is a sign that your body is dependent on alcohol. Dependence is not the same as addiction, but it’s a forerunner of it. Alcohol changes the brain, and when the physical dependence becomes psychological as well, addiction has set in.

The difference in heavy drinking versus alcoholism is the ability to stop or moderate one’s drinking when problems arise. If you are addicted to alcohol, you will continue to drink even as the problems pile up and become more severe. When you have lost the choice to drink or abstain, you have developed the disease of addiction.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a problem with drinking, contact Summit BHC today. We can point you in the right direction and help you determine which level of treatment will prove beneficial.