When Does Alcohol Use Become Alcohol Abuse?

alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol use

When does alcohol use become alcohol abuse? The answer depends on the individual, and every case is different. When alcohol dependence starts the alcohol use becomes part of a destructive pattern, one that spirals out of control very quickly in many cases. Some factors to consider when determining whether your alcohol use has turned into alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse include:

  • Do you need more alcohol to get the same effects? When you build up a tolerance it will take more alcohol for you to feel the same effects that you used to feel with fewer drinks. Your tolerance will continue to grow as time goes on.
  • When you try to stop drinking do you experience withdrawal symptoms? If you notice any discomfort when you stop your alcohol use then this means you are going through withdrawals, and your alcohol use has become alcohol abuse.
  • Do you drink more than you mean to? Alcohol abuse includes going over the number of drinks that you intended, or drinking until you become intoxicated on a regular basis.
  • Do you often think about cutting back on how much you drink or quitting completely?
  • Do you spend a considerable amount of time thinking about drinking, consuming alcohol, or recovering from your alcohol use?
  • Do you still drink even though your alcohol use has caused physical or psychological problems?
  • Have you experienced problems with your work or school routine because of alcohol use?
  • Has your alcohol use caused you legal problems?


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