People who have drinking problems should understand that they are in danger of developing alcoholism. What causes a person to make the leap from a simple drinking problem into full blown alcohol addiction? No one knows for sure, and certainly no one can accurately predict when this will happen or who it will happen to. So the key is that if you find yourself having problems when you drink then you may want to consider backing off or getting some help with your problem.
How can you tell the difference between a drinking problem and full blown alcoholism? There is an old saying that seems to describe it perfectly: if you give someone alcohol and it creates a problem, then that is a drinking problem….but if you take the alcohol away and they have major problems, then that is an alcoholic. So the difference there? Alcoholism is defined more by the necessity to drink, rather than the harmful effects that are produced when under the influence. In other words, anyone can get loaded and have some problems, but it takes a real alcoholic to flip out and go crazy when they are forced to be completely abstinent. This is why alcoholics typically need a program when they get sober, so that they can learn how to deal with life now that they are not self medicating with alcohol.
If you think you have a drinking problem, or possibly are a flat out alcoholic, then there are some experiments that you can do in order to learn more about your condition. For starters, you might go to an AA meeting, tell them that this is your first meeting, and also tell them that you are not sure if you are an alcoholic or not. They will then dedicate the entire meeting to helping you figure that out. They will do this by telling you their stories, one at a time, about how they used to drink and how their life was going and so on. This will help you to pin down the exact nature of your condition through identification. If you cannot identify with the people at an AA meeting, then you probably have a drinking problem. If you can identify with them, then you are probably an alcoholic. Simple as that.
Another thing you can do is to force yourself to do a 30 day test where you only take one drink each day. The results of such an experiment can help you to see through any denial you might have about your condition.