By Jeannie Colter

One of the tough things about alcohol addiction is that if you are of legal age, there is nothing wrong with buying and/or drinking alcohol. And depending on the social circles you frequent, there may be nothing wrong with having a little too much to drink of even with being drunk. Sometimes the legality of alcohol makes dependence on it seem okay in a way that it does not seem okay to abuse an illegal drug. For some people alcohol addiction doesn’t seem to exist; according to them they simply “like to drink.”

The New York Times defines alcohol abuse as a situation where someone’s drinking habit causes problems but that person is not physically addicted. In contrast, alcoholism is defined as:

“…when you have signs of physical addiction to alcohol and continues to drink, despite problems with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or job responsibilities. Alcohol may control your life and relationships.”

In an interview with Dr. Mark L. Willenbring, the director of the Treatment and Recovery Research Division at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Times sought to question some assumptions people have about alcoholism. Willenbring spoke of how many people who are addicted to alcohol do not fit the stereotype of someone who is falling down drunk all the time and cannot remember much. He spoke of findings that showed the more than 70% of Americans have a period of three to four years where they are heavily dependent on alcohol, but then they make a change and don’t return to alcohol addiction.

It is good to know that a large percentage of Americans find a way to end their dependence on alcohol after a low point of a few years, however, it is possible for you to do a lot of damage to yourself and your relationships during that time.

While we know that it is not easy to admit to yourself (much less anyone else) that you have become dependent on alcohol, we also know the freedom your will experience once alcohol is no longer a controlling factor in your life.