There is no simple diagnostic test to confirm an alcohol addiction. Rather, addiction is a diagnosis of exclusion. When all behaviors and health problems are taken into consideration, your doctor may determine that your drinking is in fact an addiction.
Alcohol abuse is different from alcoholism. People who abuse alcohol but are not physically addicted may experience the same signs and symptoms as people who have alcoholism. But people who abuse alcohol often don’t have the same cravings or need to drink that a person with alcoholism does. Instead, a person who abuses alcohol isn’t able to control their drinking when they do drink.
Alcohol abuse is a less serious issue when compared with alcoholism. At the same time, it can come with many health complications and can lead to alcoholism if it’s not treated.
It’s easy to tell when a person has been drinking. Signs include slurred speech, uncoordinated movements, lowered inhibitions, and alcohol breath. However, identifying a deeper addiction may not be so black and white.
Alcoholics may be able to hide many of the more obvious symptoms of addiction for a long period of time. Too often the addicted person and the people around them choose to ignore the addiction, or find themselves in a state of denial about the realities of the alcohol addiction.
Randy Withers, MA is a National Certifed Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPCA) and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS-A) in North Carolina. He specializes in dual diagnosis substance abuse and mental health treatment.