While not necessarily as stark as the difference between night and day, there is a distinction between casual drinking and alcoholism.

The difference isn’t quite in the volume of alcohol consumed or the number of drinks either, it lies in a person’s relationship with alcohol. Someone may go way overboard on any given night but not rise beyond being a problem drinker.

Casual drinking vs alcoholism is about the degree to which alcohol is in control of you, rather than the other way around. In the simplest of terms, casual drinkers can decide when they drink and it’s not why they do anything: they are in control. Alcoholism is marked by an inability to rein in drinking and retain that control.

They seem totally at odds but keep in mind that while night and day are different at their extremes, the transition between them feels imperceptible. The same goes for the difference between casual drinking and alcoholism, it’s when one turns into the other that things get murky.

Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted to Alcohol

Alcohol addiction is technically called alcohol use disorder (AUD) and it’s an umbrella term that is used to denote alcohol abuse, dependence, addiction and alcoholism. More importantly is the idea that it’s a spectrum ranging from mild to moderate to severe. 

The signs your loved one might be addicted are as follows and the severity of AUD is based on how many of the criteria are met.

  • Drinking longer and more than planned
  • Unable to stop drinking or cut back, despite a genuine effort to do so
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time drinking and recovering from it
  • Intense cravings for a drink
  • Drinking interferes with home, school and/or family life and responsibilities 
  • Carrying on drinking despite clear issues it’s causing in your interpersonal relationships
  • Losing interest in activities you once found joy in, in favor of drinking
  • Getting into dangerous situations whilst drinking, i.e., unprotected sex, drunk driving, etc.
  • Continuing to drink even though it’s creating health problems, mental and physical, or making existing ones worse
  • Developing a tolerance so you have to drink more and more to get a similar buzz as before
  • Starting to feel the pangs of withdrawal when the drinks wear off  

Different Ways to Treat Alcoholism

Fortunately, there are ways to free your loved one from the prison of alcoholism and getting outside help often gives you the best shot at a lasting recovery.


First thing’s first, getting alcohol entirely out of your system is at the top of the list. You can’t shake the psychological side of addiction until you’ve rid your body of the toxins and beat back the physical addiction. 

When the addiction is on the severe end of the spectrum, it’s imperative to detox under medical supervision rather than trying to do it on your own because you run the risk of experiencing delirium tremens. It’s a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that is potentially fatal.


After detox, you’ll start your treatment for addiction in earnest. The specifics of what your program will entail are going to be unique because each rehab center operates differently and incorporates the techniques and modalities they feel work best. Moreover, they all create custom-tailored plans best suited to what works well for you.

Typically though, rehab will involve some aspect of talk therapy, be it in individual or group settings.

12 Step Groups

After you’ve completed a treatment program, 12 step groups and other types of support groups are there to help keep you on the path of sobriety. Through regular, no-pressure meetings you’ll be inspired to continue your journey of recovery and make new, sober connections and friendships in the process.

How Footprints of Serenity Can Help You Confront Your Loved One

There’s so much good stuff out there once your loved one has decided that a sober life is what they truly deserve. The difficulty, of course, is getting them there. That’s where an intervention can help.

At Footprints of Serenity, we know just how life-changing freeing someone from the clutches of alcohol addiction is. For well over a decade, we’ve honed our approach to interventions to make sure as many folks commit to the assistance needed to get there as possible. Reach out to us and let’s work together to make sure your loved one receives the help they need too.