What is Problem Drinking?

What is Problem Drinking?

Problem drinking should not be confused with alcoholism – there are major differences between the two. That said, problem drinking, like an issue with alcohol abuse, can have major consequences on a person’s health and prevent them from living a normal life and carrying out everyday tasks.

Problem drinking is still a reason many people check into rehab. If you are a problem drinker, you consume enough alcohol to have a detrimental impact on your job, profession, physical and mental health, as well as your relationships with others. The problem can be treated as an alcohol-related disorder in some extreme cases, although not everyone meets these criteria.

You can be a problem drinker if you are a moderate to heavy drinker, or binge drink regularly. Those classed as problem drinkers often drink heavily in an attempt to solve their problems in life, such as the loss of a job, debt or breakdown of a relationship. Often, problem drinkers find it difficult to accept that they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.


How Does a Person Become a Problem Drinker?

Those who feel they cannot do things like going to a social gathering without having a drink, or who drink to feel like their usual selves are at the highest risk of being classified as ‘Problem Drinkers’. Usually, a problem drinker will seek reasons to consume alcohol. Particular groups of people are at greater risk of exhibiting such behaviour, including:

  • Students
  • People who have suffered a major life change or traumatic event
  • Veterans
  • Professionals in high-stress careers
  • People with a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression
  • People who consider themselves to be anti-social

It is also worth considering the findings that men are generally more likely to become problem drinkers and that some people are also genetically predisposed to become problem drinkers due to family traits.


Instances of Problem Drinking

There are several relatable examples of problem drinking, these are:

  • A person who receives news that they have lost their job. They choose to consume large amounts of alcohol to ‘drink away’ the bad news, to the extent where they become drunk and forget about it, until the next morning.
  • A person is nervous about undertaking an exam or job interview. They drink to feel in control of the situation and to stop feeling nervous. They have relied upon alcohol to feel normal and in control of their life – a situation which can quickly spiral into destruction and lead to an alcohol use disorder.
  • A person who has a very stressful job comes home each night and drinks heavily to feel more relaxed. Over time, the amount they drink increases to the point where they feel they need a drink to.
  • A person who drinks to the point that they become injured/suffer an accident as a result, possibly needing medical attention.


Below is a glossary defining different terms relating to alcohol disorders:

Alcohol intoxication/being drunk

When a person is intoxicated, they often have little or no control over their thoughts and actions, losing judgement and the ability to make rational decisions. Every person is different – some only need to drink a little before becoming intoxicated, while others have to drink a lot more to become drunk. Typical signs of intoxication include slurred, nonsensical speech and loss of balance.

Binge drinking

A binge drinker drinks very large volumes of alcohol, often in a short space of time. This means that a person typically drinks 4-5 drinks within 2 hours. This type of drinking can be very dangerous, with serious health complications.

Heavy drinking

This shouldn’t be confused with binge drinking, but if a person is a heavy drinker, they still drink a large amount – typically large quantities for at least five days in a typical month. Health complications from heavy drinking include high blood pressure, heart disease and liver disease.


This is when a person loses control over the amount they are drinking, usually because they have become too dependent on and tolerant to alcohol to care. If a person is suffering from alcoholism, they will suffer withdrawal symptoms when they do not drink. You should seek rehab if you or someone you love suffers from alcoholism.


How Do I Noticed Signs of Problem Drinking or an Alcohol Use Disorder

A person is suffering from alcohol use disorder when they frequently drink too much, with little or no control over the amount they drink, and feel sad or depressed if they cannot drink alcohol.

If you feel you or someone you love might have an alcohol use disorder, or an issue with problem drinking, answer the following assessment, giving ‘yes’ or ‘no’ replies:

  • Have you frequently had times where you consumed more alcohol than you intended to?
  • Have you ever tried to stop drinking and been unsuccessful?
  • Do you spend a lot of time feeling hungover?
  • Has your drinking caused issues with your job, family relationships or finances?
  • Have you noticed changes in your behaviour or activity because of your drinking?
  • Has your drinking ever gotten you into dangerous situations or trouble with the police?
  • Have you ever lost consciousness as a result of your drinking?
  • Do you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink such as anxiety, feeling depressed or feeling irritable?
  • Do you feel you need help with a drinking problem?

If you have replied with ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, meaning the above assessment has indicated that you might need help for problem drinking, contact us at Rehab Clinics Group today by getting in touch on 03301 596 494, or Text HELP To 83222.