Alcohol abuse, or problem drinking, is
characterized by the compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol,
usually to the detriment of the drinker’s health, relationships and job. Alcohol
abuse involves the development of tolerance, or the need to consume more and more
alcohol to feel the same physical effects.
Alcoholism, the most severe form of problem
drinking, occurs when the user, now considered an alcoholic, becomes physically dependent on alcohol. Signs of alcoholism include any and all symptoms of alcohol abuse plus withdrawal symptoms (the body’s reaction to not having alcohol in its system) when the alcoholic suddenly reduces or discontinues drinking.