Alcohol Abuse vs Dependence
Occasional use of alcohol is commonly accepted in our society and we associate the pleasure of using alcohol with celebrating and socializing during certain events or to relax after a hard day’s work. Many of us can limit our use of alcohol to these specific areas without abusing its use,. But, alcohol is an addictive substance that millions of people put themselves and others at risk because they have become dependent on alcohol and find it hard to live without.
Alcohol abuse is not the same as alcohol dependence, but, both are considered to be alcohol disorders. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,” about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder.”
It isn’t normal for a person to drink so much that they become intoxicated and put themselves or others at risk by exhibiting harmful behaviors, meaning abuse. Alcohol abuse involves abnormal bouts of drinking, but, the person can go days without drinking and not suffer withdrawals or any other ill effects from discontinuing use. Common forms of alcohol abuse include:
- Drinking alcohol despite social, interpersonal, or legal problems as a result of alcohol abuse
- Drinking alcohol in abnormally high amounts or frequencies
- Drinking alcohol at unacceptable times or in unacceptable places
- Drinking alcohol to the extent it causes physical or psychological to yourself or others
- Binge Drinking
- Driving, swimming, or engaging in dangerous activities or risky behaviors while under the influence of alcohol.
Dependency to alcohol includes all of the above criteria for alcohol abuse, but, it involves much more. Dependency begins with a tolerance and becomes alcoholism. The more a person drinks, the greater the tolerance will be. Drinking excessively or consistently will cause the body to become accustomed to the alcohol’s effects and often results in a dependency that makes the user feel like they need to consume alcohol in order to feel normal.
Alcohol dependence affects users physically and psychologically to the extent that they suffer withdrawals when they quit drinking alcohol. Signs of alcohol dependency may include:
- Tolerance – increased need to drink more quantities of alcohol to get the desired effect.
- Uncontrollable craving to drink alcohol
- Inability to control drinking habits or amounts
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
- Inability to stop drinking – relapse after trying to quit