Problem Drinker vs. Alcoholic: What’s the Difference?

When most people think of someone with a ‘drinking problem,’ they picture an alcoholic. However, there is a subcategory of alcoholism known as problem drinking. The symptoms of problem drinking are less severe, but they can lead to alcoholism over time. In this guide, we will explain the difference between a problem drinker and an alcoholic, along with treatment tips for both groups.

Definition of Problem Drinker

A problem drinker is someone who experiences a negative effect from drinking but is not necessarily dependent on alcohol. For instance, someone who becomes angry or verbally abusive after a few drinks may be considered a problem drinker, as long as he or she is not addicted to alcohol. We will explain more about alcohol addiction in the next section.

A problem drinker can go for an extended period of time without drinking. They may drink frequently, or they may only drink on occasion. Some symptoms of problem drinking include:

  • Missing important events in favor of drinking
  • Experiencing a strong personality shift with alcohol (anger, violence, depression, etc.)
  • Excessive spending after drinking
  • Conflicts with friends or family members while drinking or as a result of drinking
  • Driving while drunk, or doing illegal activities under the influence of alcohol
  • Having intercourse with people you do not know after drinking
Definition of Alcoholic

An alcoholic is someone who has a physical dependency on alcohol. Alcoholism is an addiction, just like smoking or substance abuse. Some alcoholics drink in larger volumes than others, but they all share the physical need for alcohol. This need never fully goes away, but you can learn how to control it with alcohol addiction treatment.

A Problem Drinker Can Become an Alcoholic

Problem drinking can turn into alcoholism over time. Casual drinking becomes more drinking and more excessive, or a problem drinker begins to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. The longer this behavior continues, the harder it is to overcome. However, there are treatment options available no matter how severe your alcoholism may be.

Getting Help for Alcoholism, No Matter the Severity

Whether you are a problem drinker or an alcoholic, there is help available for you. With evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment, you can learn how to cut down or completely stop drinking. You can also learn how to improve your quality of life by finding effective coping mechanisms. If drinking has isolated you from friends and family members, alcoholism treatment can help you rebuild those relationships. Don’t let the alcohol have control of your life – take control back again.

Mental Health Resources is an alcohol addiction treatment center in Memphis, TN. We provide personalized alcoholism treatment, and we have an extremely high success rate. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about our programs, call (901) 682-6136.

** Announcement **
Our practice location at 5400 Poplar Ave Suite 100, Memphis TN 38119 has closed on Friday, March 15, 2024. It has been our privilege to support your wellbeing at our East Memphis location, and we look forward to continuing your treatment at one of our three (3) other practice locations. Reach out to schedule an appointment today!