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When Does Drinking Become Alcoholism?

At some point in our drinking, we find that we are unable to stop despite the negative consequences we are facing. Alcoholism is a disease defined by an inability to control or regulate how much or how often we are drinking. When faced with negative consequences as a result of drinking, we find that we continue to drink despite our best efforts to stop. When this occurs, we have made the transition from drinking into alcoholism.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains that there are three different types of drinkers. First, there are moderate drinkers who can “take it or leave it.” Moderate drinkers have little problem giving up alcohol if they have a good reason. Then, there are “hard drinkers.” The Big Book explains, “He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason—ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor—becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.” Hard drinkers may present physical dependence, but alcoholism is more than physical dependence on alcohol. This class of drinkers may face withdrawal symptoms, but are able to discontinue using based on willpower.

Those suffering from alcoholism are different from moderate and hard drinkers because they cannot stop drinking even with sufficient reason. The Big Book explains, “He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.” Another defining characteristic of men and women suffering from alcoholism is their inability to successfully return to a point where they are able to moderate their use. The Big Book states: “We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop.” There is something at a physical level that separates those with alcoholism from those without. Once we develop alcoholism, we are unable to return to drinking and must find a recovery program of abstinence if we are to live happy and health lives.

Your life doesn’t have to be one of pain and suffering as a result of alcoholism. You can make the decision to seek help today and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a highly effective residential treatment program that includes medically-supported detoxification, maintenance care, individual therapies, counseling (including family therapy), and plans to help clients build life skills that will help them after discharge. For information about residential treatment and other treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431