Alcohol Dependence Vs Alcohol Abuse

Listed below are different some different types of treatments that are used with treating alcohol dependency/alcohol use disorder depending on several factors that vary from person to person. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance, which means that it produces changes in the way our brains behave.

  • Simply binge drinking at parties, without other repercussions, would not qualify for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse.
  • When someone has an AUD, they meet diagnostic criteria that demonstrate they are unable to stop drinking despite serious consequences.
  • If you’re concerned about someone who drinks too much, ask a professional experienced in alcohol treatment for advice on how to approach that person.
  • While it is possible to have a physical dependence without being addicted, addiction is usually right around the corner.
  • (Substance use disorder, or SUD, is a preferred term in the scientific community.) Because of this lack of consistency, some ground rules can help differentiate between the two terms.
  • The term „Alcoholism” could be applied to someone who drinks yet experiences no negative impact on their life as easily as it could to someone who is addicted.

Heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining , as well as stomach and esophageal ulcers. It can also interfere with your body’s ability to get enough B vitamins and other nutrients. Heavy drinking can damage your pancreas or lead to inflammation of the pancreas . Our free, confidential telephone consultation will help you find the best treatment program for you.

The definition of AUD also includes the impact that such drinking has on your health and life. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen for heavier drinkers.

Alcohol Abuse Or Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe misuse, according to the 5th edition of theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5). Having support and seeking professional treatment increases the chances for recovery from AUD. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous provide support for people who are recovering. It can be hard to see there is a problem even if the drinking is negatively impacting your health and your life. If you have a concern that you have AUD, you can see a health professional for consultation. Alcohol abuse is too much, too often and alcohol dependence is the inability to quit. However, certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification.

  • The ABV of liquor is considerably higher than that of beer or wine, typically ranging from 38–60% and reaching as high as 80 or 90%.
  • These are known as “triggers.” Something as simple as the act of driving can trigger a desire to use.
  • Delirium tremens is a symptom of severe alcohol withdrawal that can be potentially fatal.
  • The reasons for this change were based on the large body of research that the committee reviewed.
  • However, if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, you’re in potentially dangerous territory.
  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health , in 2019, over 60% of Americans admitted to having drunk alcohol in the past year, though most would not say they had an alcohol problem.

There has been considerable scientific effort over the past several decades to identify and understand the core features of alcohol dependence. Abuse and dependence are defined on a scale that measures the time and degree of substance use.

How Are Alcohol Abuse And Alcohol Addiction Related?

Whether your loved one is struggling with alcoholism, alcohol abuse or binge drinking that might turn into dependence, we can help. At Spirit Mountain Recovery, we offer remarkable alcohol addiction treatment focused on helping your loved one recover and learn how to live a fulfilling life without alcohol. If you or someone you love is battling alcohol addiction, know that you are not alone. With the help of a detox program, psychotherapy, 12-step programs, and support groups, you can get sober and stay sober. Before you start recovery, it helps to understand the differences between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Approximately 8 out of every 10 adults in the United States have consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime.

What is the difference between alcohol abuse

Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours.

Early Signs Of Alcoholism

However, since alcohol affects people in different ways, recognizing AUD in yourself or in others can be subjective and challenging. Read on to learn more about the symptoms, risk factors, treatments, diagnosis, and where to get support. While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own.

What is the difference between alcohol abuse

Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and increases your risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke. Even a single binge can cause serious irregular heartbeats called atrial fibrillation. In some people, the initial reaction may feel like an increase in energy. But as you continue to drink, you become drowsy and have less control over your actions. Some research studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder or of relapsing after recovering from alcohol use disorder. The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol.

Contact an addiction treatment center today to find your ideal center and begin the road to recovery. Continue reading to learn the differences between problem drinking vs. alcoholism, how problem drinking can lead to addiction, the definition of alcoholism, how to cut back or seek treatment if necessary. Long-term, excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcohol use disorder. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much.

“Alcoholism” is a term often used to describe someone with severe alcohol dependence. An alcohol use disorder is a medical diagnosis that can be mild, moderate or severe. The primary difference between alcohol abuse vs. alcoholism is that alcoholism refers to a legitimate medical condition, while alcohol abuse does not. Someone who is said to have alcoholism will meet the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder, but it is possible to abuse alcohol without having an alcohol use disorder. When people use this term, they are referring to an alcohol use disorder, which is the diagnostic term for alcohol addiction. Alcoholism generally refers to a disease in which a person is unable to stop drinking.

Problem drinking can also damage your emotional stability, finances, career, and your ability to build and sustain satisfying relationships. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can also have an impact on your family, friends and the people you work with. Treatments for alcohol dependence can be separated into two groups, those directed towards severely alcohol-dependent people, and those focused for those at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Treatment for alcohol dependence often involves utilizing relapse prevention, support groups, psychotherapy, and setting short-term goals. The Twelve-Step Program is also a popular faith-based process used by those wishing to recover from alcohol dependence.

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Despite the potentially lethal damage that heavy drinking inflicts on the body—including cancer, heart problems, and liver disease—the social consequences can be just as devastating. Alcoholics and alcohol abusers are much more likely to get divorced, have problems with domestic violence, struggle with unemployment, and live in poverty. Drinking problems can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism and take steps to cut back if you recognize them. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it and either cutting back to healthy levels or quitting altogether.

What is the difference between alcohol abuse

During these programs, alcohol withdrawal symptoms are medically managed by a team of professionals. This is followed up with inpatient or outpatient therapy and counseling sessions to prevent a relapse. Alcohol use disorder encompasses various harmful drinking behaviors, including alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol addiction . Warning signs of alcohol use disorder are related to patterns of drinking, the continuance of alcohol consumption despite negative consequences and the presence of withdrawal symptoms.

What About Heavy Drinking Or Binge Drinking?

Those problems could includedepression, an inability to manage stress, an unresolved trauma from your childhood, or any number of mental health issues. Such problems may become more prominent when you’re no longer using alcohol to cover them up. But you will be in a healthier position to finally address them and seek the help you need.

  • Accessing help and thinking about recovering from alcohol addiction is a daunting prospect; however, it need not be faced alone.
  • Alcohol abuse involves excessive drinking, which is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment in a luxurious facility nestled in Eden Valley, Utah for a healthy, outdoors treatment experience.
  • If he is making it really obvious, your loved one may even be drinking more often in front of you or leaving empty bottles around the house.

Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without support, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when the road gets tough. If you’re ready to admit you have a drinking problem, you’ve already taken the first step.

If you successfully complete our 90-day treatment program, we guarantee you’ll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment. The person continues to drink alcohol despite having the problems listed above and/or problems continue to worsen as a result of drinking. The person repeatedly uses alcohol in situations where it is physically dangerous (operating machinery, driving a car, etc.). What is the difference between alcohol abuse American Addiction Centers made the decision to close San Diego Addiction Treatment Center. Our sister facility Laguna Treatment Hospital, located in Orange County, CA, is available to help you. Laguna and it’s world class treatment team have an amazing reputation of providing high quality care to individuals struggling with addiction. If REM sleep is disrupted you may feel tired and unable to concentrate the next day.

Alcoholism is a non-medical term used most often in everyday language and within the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies various mental illnesses and disorders. Mental health professionals use it nationwide to categorize and diagnose individuals seeking treatment. Even as little as one or two alcoholic beverages can produce a euphoric feeling in new drinkers. If you do not feel a compulsion to drink, but you turn to alcohol to escape reality or mask difficult emotions, this is a sign of alcohol abuse. The term refers to a problematic pattern of drinking where a person uses alcohol in a self-destructive manner.

Other Signs And Symptoms Of Alcoholism

They also learn strategies to prevent relapse and achieve long-term recovery. In light of their findings, the authors of the Pediatrics review make several recommendations regarding the application of alcohol abuse and alcoholism standards to teenagers.


Symptoms of withdrawal include headaches, nausea, tremors, and in severe cases, hallucinations and seizures. Alcoholism is a specific term referring to addiction to alcohol, while drug addiction indicates a generalized condition wherein one can be addicted to any substance.

For young people, the influence of parents, peers and other role models can impact risk. People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol intoxication results as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration is, the more likely you are to have bad effects.


The cardinal features of alcohol dependence are compulsion , loss of control over alcohol (can’t quit) and continued drinking no matter what the consequences. In short, alcohol abuse is too much, too often and alcohol dependence is the inability to quit.

Alcohol problems do not discriminate; anyone can develop a drinking problem. More and more young people are discovering that they already have alcoholic tendencies and are seeking treatment.

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