Where does behavior cross the line from enjoyment to addiction?

Some may drink to excess on holiday, while others have a glass or two of wine or scotch every night. The signs of alcoholism are not characterized by drinking alone, but pertain significantly to overall well-being as it relates to drinking behavior.

It is widely accepted that over-stressed college students party and binge drink to let off steam. While it may not be considered moderate, it is also not entirely symptomatic of addictive behavior, and with these kinds of trends it may be difficult to determine where the line is between a negative coping skill and an addiction.

The signs of a negative coping skill like binge drinking are problematic, initially when drinking begins to affect other areas of an individual’s life.

Drinking too much too often, becoming sick, missing work or appointments, making excuses and cancelling engagements, participating socially only when there will be plenty of alcohol are all signs of problem drinking.

Giving up on other activities to get drunk, drinking even when friends and family express concern, and drinking in risky situations (such as before driving) are signs of alcohol substance abuse.

While substance abuse problems may begin as a negative coping mechanism to stress, addiction will also show physical signs.

Needing more alcohol to get the same effect, keeping stashes of alcohol to drink alone, loss of control while drinking; experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, anxiety, upset stomach and sweating are indications of physical dependence.

Denial is also common with addiction; so to objectively recognize symptoms, it is important to listen to family and friends and to seek help from a doctor.

While the signs of alcoholism and problem drinking may vary from person to person, the deterioration of well-being will be progressively the same if untreated.