Yes, there are many people who become addicted to alcohol. But there are many drinkers out there who drink more than they would like and are not addicted. They may feel addicted but aren’t really sure. One thing you can’t base if you are addicted or not is the presence of mild withdrawal symptoms.
Having mild withdrawal symptoms (sleep disruption, irritability, a low feeling, wanting to have alcohol again to feel better) does not automatically mean that you are addicted.
Withdrawal is biological. When we ingest a drug/substance repeatedly, the body adapts to having this new substance around and it resets of our homeostatic mechanisms (our baseline functioning). Our body now behaves a new way with this substance around. When we become adapted to alcohol, also known as physically dependent, then our body is looking for the substance, so we continue as this “new” way of functioning. If the alcohol is stopped abruptly, there is an imbalance and our bodies must go through the process again of readjusting to the new equilibrium without alcohol. So we feel these withdrawal symptoms during the time the body is re-calibrating to another new norm. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a sign of physical dependence; the body has become accustom to having the alcohol around.
Having mild withdrawal symptoms does not automatically mean that you are addicted.
It will feel crappy when you initially cut back on drinking, but that is how it is supposed to feel. It’s biological.
The body is amazing at adapting to its environment. So when you have done something the same way for a period of time and then change it up, it will take the body and mind a bit to find its new groove. Think about driving home from work via different route. At first, it feels awkward and weird. But then you adjust in a few days to the new routine.
People may be reluctant to get help with their drinking as they are not sure if they are an alcoholic. Don’t let the semantics trip you up. If you are interested in cutting back, I can help. And there are many resources available if you want to stop entirely. Cutting back, or quitting, may not feel good at first, but the benefits to your life are beyond measure.