Alcoholism is a serious, debilitating disease which literally destroys lives. Problem drinkers are those whose alcohol abuse has adversely affected their lives, causing adverse issues in most or all areas of their lives. The nature of alcohol abuse often means there are underlying unresolved issues plaguing the problem drinker.

Problem drinkers often are in denial of their problems, and as a result can be very stubborn and temperamental about the subject of their drinking, even when sober. Generally mild-mannered problem drinkers may also become quick to anger with very little provocation depending upon the stress level of the situation. In worst-case scenarios, problem drinkers may become extremely violent and virtually uncontrollable if they drink to the point of a waking blackout (capable of physical action with little to no mental awareness or inhibition).

Work Life
Although both types are abusers of alcohol, one of the main differences between a problem drinker and a functioning alcoholic is the former’s frequent inability to maintain her professional commitments, including regular attendance and quality of work. As a result, problem drinkers are known to drift from job to job due to lack of focus, or even termination. But many problem drinkers are intelligent and fully capable of holding down jobs once they have confronted their problem and seek help accordingly.

Alcohol abuse goes far beyond social drinking, which is the controlled drinking of alcohol in social settings that is not done solely for the purpose of binging or extreme intoxication. Although one’s exact blood alcohol level is dependent upon factors such as weight, gender, body fat and height, problem drinkers are seldom able to make it through one day without having several (usually more than five) drinks, leading to legal intoxication. Because tolerance increases the more one drinks, the frequency with which a problem drinker will imbibe will too.

Relationships and Family
Problem drinkers often have a difficult time maintaining close ties to family and friends. This may be a result of latent shame about their alcohol abuse, or simple avoidance of any opportunity for a loved one to see how bad their addiction has become. The continued abuse of alcohol may even cause the problem drinker to steal money and other valuable items from friends and relatives in order to fuel their addiction. In many cases, problem drinkers become subject to intervention by family members and a substance abuse professional, although some family members actually worsen the problem by actively enabling a drinker’s alcohol abuse.

Health Effects
Both long-term and short-term alcohol abuse may manifest in the health of a problem drinker. Short-term adverse effects can include dehydration, nausea, alcohol poisoning and temporary loss of motor function (blackouts). Long-term effects of problem drinking may include cirrhosis of the liver, significant weight gain or loss, severe depression and decline of overall oral health.