Common Questions About Alcoholism

Before getting into the risk factors and signs of alcoholism, let’s take a look at three of the most frequently asked questions about alcohol use. Click on any of the following questions to see the answer.

What's the difference between alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse is any type of drinking that has a negative impact on your health. More often than not, this term refers specifically to binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as any time an individual consumes a large amount of alcohol in a single sitting (roughly 3 to 5 drinks or more) and over a short time frame (2 to 3 hours). This type of drinking can evolve into a long-term habits.
Alcoholism describes chronic drinking driven by chemicals in the brain that threaten a person’s way of life. Those who abuse alcohol are not necessarily alcoholics. Frequent alcohol abuse (which is common in settings like college campuses) does not mean that someone is an alcoholic. However, ongoing alcohol abuse greatly increases one’s risk for addiction.

Is there such a thing as a functioning alcoholic?

Many people point toward the Hollywood image of a “functioning alcoholic” and use this as an excuse to avoid treatment. Unfortunately, these fictional depictions of advanced alcoholism are not based in reality.
Some may delay their decline into visible addiction longer than others, it is only a matter of time before the body’s dependence on alcohol makes it impossible for a person to function as they used to. In short, the “functioning alcoholic” does not exist. Some individuals simply have a higher tolerance for alcohol, but it can catch up to them before long.

Is it safe to detox at home from alcohol?

It is not safe to try to do alcohol detox at home, though you may have been told otherwise. That’s because the body has to make changes to get used to handling large amounts of alcohol. Once these changes are made, it can be extremely difficult for the body to reset itself without undergoing a life-threatening withdrawal process.
Going through withdrawal without access to medical care could end in tragedy. You or your loved one is always better off going through withdrawal under the guidance of experienced detox professionals.

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