Difference Between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers (With Table)

Difference Between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers (With Table)

The fundamental distinction between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers is that Alcoholics go on to experience a cluster of physical, mental, emotional, and social consequences that are far more severe than those experienced by Problem Drinkers.

Physical problems include poor health due to diet, excessive weight gain, and lack of exercise. Mental problems include memory loss, lack of concentration, inability to make decisions, depression, and anxiety.

Alcoholics vs Problem Drinkers

The main difference between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers is that alcoholics are physiologically hooked to alcohol. On the other hand, Problem drinkers are not physiologically hooked to alcohol. Alcoholics endure many negative symptoms when they stop drinking, whereas Problem drinkers can readily quit. However, alcoholics are unable to do so without assistance.

Alcoholics vs Problem Drinkers 1

Alcoholism is a complex condition that damages the body, mind, and spirit. It is associated with multiple health risks, such as liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders, and certain cancers. Alcohol abuse can also seriously affect a person’s personal life. It can damage relationships with family and friends. Alcoholism can also lead to financial problems.

A “problem drinker” is a term used to characterize persons who abuse alcohol but don’t require medical treatment, peer support, or a spiritual epiphany to halt or change their drinking habits. The problem drinker may not have any apparent health issues, but their body will suffer if they continue their drinking habits over time. A problem drinker does not necessarily become an alcoholic. Some people can control the amount of alcohol they consume without outside help.

Comparison Table Between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers

Parameters of ComparisonAlcoholicsProblem Drinkers
Problems with healthOne of the adverse consequences of alcoholism is liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cancer, ulcers, and so on.One of the adverse effects of problem drinkers is binge drinking, which includes nausea, headaches, anxiety, and tension.
Problems with the mindAlcoholics suffer from cognitive impairment, sadness, abusive conduct, and low self-esteem.Alcoholics use alcohol in an addictive manner
Description Alcoholics use alcohol in an addicted mannerProblem drinkers exhibit hurtful conduct toward loved ones, blackouts, and other behaviors.
AddictionAlcoholics cannot spend a day without drinking.Problem drinkers, on the other hand, do not want alcohol as strongly as alcoholics.
WithdrawalAlcoholics cannot simply stop drinking because they require medical and moral help.Problem drinkers, on the other hand, can stop drinking without experiencing any negative consequences.

What is Alcoholics?

Alcoholism, known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a condition in which a person becomes addicted to alcohol and cannot control how much they consume, even though it is causing serious problems at home and work.

Alcoholism is a serious medical condition that can cause many negative health effects, including physical, mental, and emotional issues. It can also hurt families and relationships.

The person may consume alcohol compulsively, even though they know it is causing problems for them. This consumption of alcohol results in the person being unable to stop drinking even if they want to and continuing to drink even when it has negative consequences.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. This means symptoms worsen over time unless the individual seeks treatment and makes significant lifestyle changes. Despite this, people may go through periods of relapse when they experience symptoms once again.

There are two main categories of alcoholism:

Young-adult subtype: This occurs between the ages of 18 and 29. People in this category tend to abuse alcohol for a longer period of time than adults over age 30. They also show higher rates of substance abuse.

Functional subtype: This group is more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety or depression disorder before the age of 15. They have lower unemployment rates, marital problems, and legal issues. They may also be more likely to have family members dependent on drugs or alcohol.

What is Problem Drinkers?

A person who is a problem drinker will continue to function in society and at work. They may still have family and friends around them. They may hide their drinking, but they will not feel the need to stop drinking altogether.

They may not be alcoholics or even think of themselves as problem drinkers. Problem drinkers are completely unaware that their behavior has become problematic. They continue to function socially and at work even though their lives are beginning to unravel. Some people’s lives remain relatively unaffected by problem drinking for years.

Problem drinkers don’t realize what’s happening until a crisis hits. Something such as losing a job, having a serious argument with a loved one, or getting injured might cause them to stop and take stock of what’s happening in their life.

Despite the harmful consequences, problem drinkers do not perceive that their drinking is the cause of these problems. They consider the negative consequences “normal,” such as being late for work because they stayed up too late the night before drinking with friends after work. Yet others will blame others for the problems they experience, arguing that it’s their partner’s fault that they’re getting divorced.

Main Differences Between Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers

  1. Alcoholics cannot resist their desires for alcohol, but problem drinkers can go days or months without drinking.
  2. Alcoholics are physiologically hooked to alcohol, while problem drinkers are not.
  3. Alcoholics require moral, spiritual, or medical assistance, whereas problem drinkers can stop drinking alone.
  4. Alcoholics have health problems such as liver and kidney disease, whereas problem drinkers do not develop any health problems unless they become alcoholics.
  5. While alcoholics experience symptoms such as shaking, loss of appetite, anxiety, insomnia, and an increased heart rate when they stop drinking for a period of time, problem drinkers experience no such symptoms.


Alcoholics are more likely to have persistent problems with alcohol: they may drink more or in greater quantity than they intended; they may be unable to stop drinking once they start; they may make unsuccessful efforts to stop drinking.

Problem Drinkers can experience some or all of these same problems. Still, most Problem Drinkers do not experience these consequences because their drinking does not progress from occasional binge drinking or heavy social drinking to the point where it becomes a central feature of their lives. If you have experienced any negative consequences due to your drinking, this constitutes evidence that your drinking is problematic.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/45000838
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005789483801075
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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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