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Monday, November 24, 2014

Drink to This -- Research Shows That Heavy Drinkers Are Not Necessarily Alcoholics

African Americans drinking wine

Excessive drinking and alcoholism has very often been linked as a common cause-and-affect. In fact, it is safe to say that most people label those who drink to excess as automatically being alcoholics. Would you be surprised to learn that heavy drinking does not necessary mean you are an alcoholic?

The link between heavy drinking and alcoholism

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcoholism is defined as "a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking."

This definition says nothing about the amount of alcohol one consumes. Why?

Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, alcoholism is a disease that is defined by a dependence upon alcohol, not the amount of alcohol one consumes. Statistics bear out this defining difference:
  • Only one in ten heavy drinkers are alcoholics
  • Less than 5 percent of alcohol-related deaths are linked to alcohol dependence (alcoholism)

Alcohol categories

Generally, people who drink too much too often are problem drinkers; they drink too much at times but are not dependent on alcohol. Binge drinkers are those who drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time to get a quick buzz. This is more common among young adults. Alcoholics are those who develop an addiction to or dependence upon alcohol and cannot stop drinking.

Although there is a difference among various types of drinking, all alcohol consumption should be managed responsibly. All three behaviors can damage one's health. Alcoholism is the most dangerous because it is considered an ongoing, chronic illness that requires serious medical attention.

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