top of page

Alcoholism Versus Alcohol Use Disorder: What’s the Difference?

Alcoholism is a significant issue that still plagues the U.S. It’s estimated that there are roughly 95,000 alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. every year, making it the third-leading preventable cause of death in the entire country. It’s why the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month back in 1987.

Despite the fact that more people are becoming aware of the dangers of alcohol dependence every year, there are still things that people don’t know about it. For example, few people understand the difference between alcoholism and an alcohol use disorder.

The Difference Between Alcoholism and an Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an alcohol use disorder refers to anyone who abuses alcohol or has a dependency on alcohol. There are also three classifications under which a person can be diagnosed as having an alcohol use disorder: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of an alcohol use disorder include:

  1. Being unable to limit how much you drink

  2. Spending a significant amount of time drinking or getting more alcohol

  3. Feeling strong urges to drink alcohol

  4. Giving up social activities and hobbies as a result of drinking alcohol

  5. Drinking alcohol in unsafe situations (such as while driving)

  6. Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when not drinking

It’s worth noting that being diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an alcoholic. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with a severe alcohol use disorder, you can also be diagnosed as being an alcoholic. Alcoholics experience all of the symptoms of someone with an alcohol use disorder as well as:

  1. Increasing tolerance to alcohol

  2. The inability to stop drinking

  3. Neglecting family and friends due to drinking

  4. Continuing to drink despite experiencing negative consequences (such as being arrested in California for drunk driving)

Having an alcohol use disorder does not necessarily mean you’re an alcoholic. However, if you are an alcoholic, then you have a severe alcohol use disorder. To find out more about the dangers of alcoholism or about health awareness in general, visit us at The Benefits Store today.


bottom of page