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What Is the Difference Between Casual Drinking and Addiction?

What Is the Difference Between Casual Drinking and Addiction?

Enjoyment of a casual drink is no big deal for some people. They can go out with family and friends, have a few drinks, and enjoy time with loved ones. Some people go out every weekend, go to the club, or go see a band. We pop Champagne or buy rounds of drinks to celebrate. Alcohol is socially acceptable and available everywhere, making it hard for people who suffer from substance use disorders.

The casual social drinker will not give it a second thought, but to the person struggling, every store, restaurant, bar, alcohol commercial or TV show with a bar in it can be a trigger. When someone cannot control how much they drink or doesn’t know how or when to stop, it can be a sign of alcoholism. One of the most significant differences between those who casually drink what they want and those who cannot stop is control. When drinking becomes excessive, frequent, and out of control, it often leads to traumatic consequences, including death.

Signs of Alcoholism

People who go out with their friends and loved ones to enjoy a drink are not usually addicted to alcohol. Casual drinking behavior is having a few drinks with friends one or two nights a week socially but returning home to normal activities, as planned. Problem drinking behavior means not being able to stop drinking, feeling an urge to drink, and more. The lack of good judgment that accompanies drinking in excess can have many undesirable consequences. There are warning signs to pay attention to, including:

-Giving up hobbies, friends, and special interests just to drink.

-Developing a high tolerance to alcohol that requires a person to drink more to feel the effects.

-Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tremors, and other issues when a person tries to stop drinking.

-Drinking before work or doing normal daily activities.

Self-Guided Assessment

People can often gauge for themselves how much they are drinking or if they are experiencing problems with alcohol. Problem drinkers don’t need to go to rehab to stop drinking, but many do because they cannot stop on their own. If some of the following statements are true, there may be a problem with drinking:

  • Drinking alone is a habit.
  • Drinking too much happens more often than not.
  • Every day there is a drink or the thought of drinking.
  • Turning to alcohol to cure boredom.
  • Using alcohol to anesthetize pain, trauma, or other issues.
  • Requiring a drink to deal with regular everyday occurrences.
  • Keeping a hidden supply of alcohol.

People who have issues with alcohol may be able to stop on their own, but they may not want to stop drinking. Some people may require some form of therapy or support to learn how to control drinking and stay away from its dangerous effects.


When someone cannot control their drinking, that is usually a sign of alcoholism. They may appear to be high-functioning or normal functioning, but they are experiencing problems with drinking. Their behavior may get them in legal trouble, jeopardize their professional license, or have other dangerous effects. If others think drinking is a problem, school or work suffers, and if there have been failed attempts to quit, then it may be time to consider outside support services.

Finding Help for a Substance Use Disorder

It is difficult to quit drinking by oneself without the support of loved ones. Still, the decision belongs to the person experiencing substance use disorder symptoms. When a loved one struggles with alcoholism, recovery can take a long time, and they need to feel they will have that support. It means physical, mental, and spiritual work to free themselves from the confines of substance use behavior.

Whether a person needs structured inpatient treatment or monitoring from professional staff, there is a program that will support people’s individual needs in recovery. It is not useful or necessary to suffer alone. To create a personalized plan means seeking out all the help that is needed. Most methods include mental health support, physical health support, detox, long-term treatment, aftercare, and much more.

Seeking Support

For people who struggle with alcoholism, finding the right support and acting with intention are positive first steps to a successful recovery. The right program may come along, but outside supportive services are necessary to help a person healthily navigate their healing. Recovery is difficult, but a person who feels free and can heal will usually do so much better with loved ones standing alongside them.

Alcoholism can often push people away because it puts them in bad situations. The loved ones may be frustrated and tired of dealing with their behavior, so they are not able to deal with the issues. Putting effort into navigating the journey with those who will stand alongside the person as they go to treatment might mean asking friends, rather than family, for support. Regardless of individual needs, the resources and information are available to those seeking assistance.

Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.

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Call today to get started on your journey or if you have any questions.

(844) 955 1066