For some people, problem drinking may be temporary and related to stress or other problems, but it still places them at risk of harming themselves, others and relationships. Seeking professional assistance if you have problems is always the best course of action as many people can learn to successfully manage their drinking by changing their behavior.
But there are others whose drinking is heavier and persistent, and the effects more severe. They may have a constant urge to drink and experience unpleasant physical effects of withdrawal when they stop (1). They may even give up pleasurable activities, withdraw from relationships and neglect other parts of their lives in order to focus on drinking. These symptoms suggest alcohol dependence, also known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). People with severe drinking problems require expert attention and possibly treatment.