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What Is the Difference between Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse?

As any Southern California detox center will tell you, there is a significant difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse, though the two often go hand in hand. One may be a temporary behavior, while the other is a lifelong issue that will always have to be dealt with.


Alcoholism is an actual disease, a chemical and psychological addiction to alcohol. There are physical withdrawal symptoms that occur when the alcoholic refrains from using alcohol, and there are long-term physical symptoms that occur as a result of continued use of alcohol. This is the result of alcohol abuse, rather than being the same as alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse takes many forms, and it quite often leads to full blown alcoholism. Because alcohol is so widely accepted by society, the signs of alcohol abuse aren’t always clear or easy to see. This is the type of abuse that takes place when the use of alcohol goes to extremes. Some examples are below.

  • Drinking is used to manage feelings when traumatic events or stressors occur.
  • The individual does not stop drinking when they should, sometimes making themselves sick.
  • Drinking is done during inappropriate times.

Though these are just some of the signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, they are some of the most common. If you think that you or a loved one may have an issue with either one of these topics, it may be time to seek help from one of the rehab centers in Southern California.

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