Alcoholism has a predictable pattern once it has taken hold of you emotionally and physically and there is a fine line between alcoholism and alcohol abuse and this is how it works:
Alcoholism has certain hallmark signs:
You crave it. The urge to drink is all but overwhelming. You actually have a physical addiction to alcohol, and there are consequences when you stop.
As time goes on you are able and may have a desire to drink more. Your tolerance to alcohol is growing and it takes more to get the desired effect.
Once you start drinking, you have lost the ability to stop. You just keep drinking until you run out of alcohol or pass out.
Alcohol becomes an obsession and your life starts to revolve around alcohol and when you are able to drink. Drinking is constantly on your mind.
The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse again can be a fine line. When you abuse alcohol you haven’t fully lost control over alcohol and can still stop drinking, but are on your way if you continue to drink to drunkenness on a fairly regular basis.
If you are advanced enough in your drinking (alcoholic), you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking – anxiety is a prominent withdrawal symptom and can be accompanied by nausea, shakiness, sweating, and general disorientation and confusion. Depression tends to be present most of the time also. All of these symptoms will of course cause you to want another drink.
If you are officially an alcoholic, your efforts to cut down on your drinking will not be successful. At that point the only option is abstinence, simply because there is no longer the option of having one or two drinks. This may be possible for a limited time, but the days are numbered before you return to your old drinking pattern and volume.
So the real difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is once you are an alcoholic you simply cannot stop drinking. With alcohol abuse you are drinking too much but not yet addicted, but if that pattern continues, chances are very good that you will develop the addiction, a chronic condition that can pervade every area of your life.