Alcoholism is a form of substance abuse and a very serious disease. This disease is chronic and it includes a number of symptoms and issues that can devastate your life, your family, your health, and even threaten your freedom at times. If you suffer from alcoholism then your alcohol consumption is regular and frequent, and you will find that alcohol preoccupies your mind when you are not drinking. You will continue to drink even though you know it is causing problems in your work, your personal and social relationships, or your daily life. Eventually a physical dependence will develop and you will need to consume even larger amounts of alcohol just to get the same effect. If you have alcoholism then you will typically experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking.
Alcoholism and problem drinking are both forms of substance abuse, but they are not necessarily the same thing all the time. You may have a problem with alcohol and yet not have alcoholism yet. An alcoholic is not able to predict how much alcohol they will consume once they start to drink, or how long they will continue to drink once this activity is started. Alcoholism causes the individual to be compelled to drink even though know there could be serious consequences to their behavior. Someone who has a problem drinking is not suffering from full blown alcoholism until the individual is physically and psychologically dependent on this substance, but this is the next step in the process if alcohol use is not stopped.