The problem is also primary. This means that treatment begins with abstinence from the drug. An alcoholic will attempt to control the drinking by cutting back, drinking in the evening, drinking only on the weekend, limiting the number of drinks consumed on a certain day etceteras. A social drinker does not have to pay much attention to alcohol consumption or non-consumption because it is not very important.
The problem is chronic. This means that it continues until abstinent is obtained and then treatment for the problems created when drunk or when the person was active, with a hangover or still having the alcoholic behavior or thinking. An alcoholic can be more threatening when the alcohol is limited or removed. The problem does not disappear with the elimination of alcohol. Damage to the person and relationships have been done. This goes on until the person is "in recovery" and has completed steps toward healing the guilt, rage and depression caused by drinking. In addition, there may be numerous problems that were prevalent before the drinking began.
The problem is fatal. It seems to have a "life of its own" and will attempt to kill the alcoholic and those around him or her. Many significant others suffer much more than the person who drinks does. Sometimes the alcoholic drinks and others who are trying to help get the hangover. More info http://abcrecoverycenter.org/
As you read on, you will realize that the abuser is not intentionally causing harm to self and others but is compelled to do so. This is not a choice he or she made because they were bad or corrupt or immoral or weak willed. It is largely due to genetic factors. It is my belief that the person is responsible for the behavior but not to blame. Consequences should be given and consistently enforced in order for learning and change to take place. Once the person knows of the problem, he or she is responsible to seek help just as you would be responsible to treat a bad tooth or diabetes. Otherwise, you may make others around you suffer due to their concern for you. The idea is to let the person heal by not doing anything for them that they can do for themselves. If you accept their consequences you can deprive them of the opportunity to get sober. Consequences provide "leverage" necessary for the person to see the problems more clearly and, hopefully, connect these problems to the drinking.