Many Americans may have experienced a loved one who causes problems when they drink, whether it’s problems in their own lives or in the lives of those around them. Because of repeatedly negative behavior, one may wonder if their loved one is a heavy drinker or an alcoholic. Understanding the difference between the two will help individuals discern how to best assist their loved ones so that they can hopefully make better life choices.

What is Heavy Drinking?

Although someone may drink heavily, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are an alcoholic. Heavy drinkers, or binge drinkers, may have more than four or five drinks within a two-hour span every other week or so. Although drinking heavily may cause them to partake in hazardous behavior, they aren’t dependent on alcohol and could stop drinking if they truly wanted to without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Because heavy drinkers are not physically dependent on alcohol, they can go long periods of time without drinking. However, when they do have a drink, they’ll keep drinking until they reach their capacity, which may cause them to put themselves and others at risk. For example, heavy drinking could cause individuals to become angry or physically violent overspend money they don’t have, take risks with their lives or other people’s lives, have unsafe sex with strangers, miss class or work, and more.

What is Alcoholism?

People suffering from alcoholism may partake in the same dangerous activities as heavy drinkers, but the difference is alcoholics are physically dependent on alcohol. They cannot control their use of alcohol even if it causes them and others emotional and/or physical distress.

Because alcoholics physically crave a drink every day, their tolerance builds, which means they have to increase their intake of alcohol to get the buzz or drunk feeling that they’re looking for. Because their intake increases, they feel as though they need a certain amount of alcohol to prevent them from experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Due to their daily alcohol cravings, they are unable to think about anything else until they have a drink in their hand.

Whether individuals are heavy drinkers or suffer from alcoholism, their relationship with alcohol is unhealthy, which means they need proper assistance to help them recognize their issues and make better life decisions. Some people may need to be checked into a rehabilitation center, while others may benefit from an alternative treatment center. If you are located near Burns, Tennessee, Discovery Place is an alternative treatment center designed to assist people suffering from alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders.

Alternative Treatment Centers in Tennessee

The Difference Between Heavy Drinking and AlcoholismDiscovery Place is an alternative treatment center that offers 30-Day Alternative Residential Addiction Recovery Program, a Long-Term Alternative Addiction Recovery Program, and more, depending on each individual’s needs. Because we are not a traditional addiction treatment center, our services help individuals maintain long-lasting sobriety because we don’t solely rely on therapeutic and psychiatric approaches.  If you feel as though you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, contact us today for a free consultation at (800) 725-0922.


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

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