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Alcoholism: Where Is the Tipping Point?

a person sits on the floor looking troubled after exploring the difference between alcohol abuse and heavy drinking

Heavy drinking is common among Americans, especially college-age adults. Binge drinking, frequent partying, and consistent consumption are all heavy drinking patterns. When does heavy drinking turn into alcoholism? It doesn’t happen in every case but frequently causes long-term addiction problems. Knowing the difference between alcoholism and heavy drinking can help you recognize when it is time to get help.

Northpoint Seattle has alcohol addiction treatment programs that can help those struggling with their drinking get sober and lead a healthy lifestyle. The staff in our outpatient programs know the importance of sincerity and compassion when helping our patients heal and walk the road to recovery. If you struggle to recognize the difference between alcoholism and heavy drinking, call us at 425.414.3530 today for more information.

How Drinking Impacts Daily Life

Most people drink alcohol occasionally without any lasting effects. However, some people develop drinking problems that begin to impact their day-to-day lives. Many people do not recognize the connection between drinking and the negative impact it has on their lives. Some of these issues include:

  • Relationship problems – Alcohol can make it difficult to maintain healthy personal relationships. People who drink excessively often have difficulty communicating with loved ones, which can lead to arguments and conflict.
  • Problems at work – Drinking can make it hard to concentrate on tasks and meet deadlines. It can also lead to absenteeism and lateness. In some cases, drinking may lead to job loss.
  • Financial problems – Alcoholism can lead to financial difficulties. Excessive drinking can result in high bills from bars and liquor stores, as well as medical expenses from alcohol-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Health problems – Drinking too much alcohol can cause various health problems, including liver damage, heart disease, and cancer. It can also weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections.

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that can lead to problems. It differs from alcoholism, but it can still cause damage to your health and well-being. Some signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking more than you intended to
  • Missing work or school because of drinking
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work
  • Continuing to drink even though it is causing problems in your life

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by an intense craving for alcohol and the inability to control drinking. People with alcoholism often have a hard time stopping even when they want to. The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is most prevalent in the lengths someone struggling with alcoholism will go to drink just to function.
Recognize Signs of Alcoholism
Spotting the signs of alcoholism early can help get you or a loved one the treatment needed to recover. Some signs that someone may be struggling with alcoholism include:

  • Drinking despite negative consequences – You may keep drinking even though your job or school performance is suffering, you’re experiencing financial difficulties, or your relationships are strained.
  • Inability to control or stop drinking – You may want to stop drinking but find that you can’t. You may tell yourself that you’ll only have one drink, but then you end up drinking more.
  • Increasingly needing alcohol to feel normal – Tolerance develops when you need increasing amounts of alcohol to feel the same effects. This can lead to drinking more than you intended or for longer periods.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink – You may have anxiety, insomnia, nausea, or sweating when you don’t drink after a period of heavy drinking.

Alcoholism Help at Northpoint Seattle

If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with alcoholism, we can help. Our alcohol addiction treatment programs include individual, family, and group therapy. We will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Call us today at 425.414.3530 to get started.