Difference between alcohol abuse and its dependence

About 14.5 million Americans are classified as having an alcohol use disorder.

It’s a common misconception that alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse are synonymous. This misconception can lead to misdiagnosing yourself and seeking ineffective treatment.

Though there are similarities between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, they aren’t the same. To help you learn more, this is everything you need to know about alcohol abuse vs. dependence. 

What Is Alcohol Abuse? 

Alcohol abuse is when individuals “abuse” alcohol leading to detrimental effects. This includes recurrent issues related to their social, interpersonal, health outcomes. It can also lead to various legal problems depending on the severity of the abuse. 

Alcohol abuse is when someone drinks too much and too often. If someone is becoming belligerent every time they drink, they could be an alcohol abuser. 

Alcohol abuse can take the form of binge drinking. People may use it to “self-medicate” for depression, insomnia, or other mental health disorders. 

More extreme examples of alcohol abuse are when someone begins to alienate themselves due to their drinking. Drunk driving and losing a job because of drinking habits are other examples. 

What Is Alcohol Dependence? 

Alcohol dependence is common among Americans as well. This occurs when someone develops a physical dependence on alcohol.

People who are alcohol dependents will often experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. If you’re ever experienced a headache due to not having a cup of coffee, you’ve experienced a form of dependence. 

When alcohol dependents stop drinking, they may experience shakiness, nausea, vomiting, delirium, or seizures. 

Getting Sober 

Those with moderate to severe alcohol disorders usually need outside help to stop drinking. This is especially true when they’re psychologically and physically dependent on it. 

When seeking help, specialists can help patients detox, provide counseling and peer-to-peer support. 

It may be best for those experiencing withdrawal symptoms to visit a substance abuse for inpatient treatment. This ensures that they get the appropriate help to detox from alcohol in a safe environment. 

If you want to learn more, you can contact a treatment center near you to inquire about their services and treatments for alcohol use disorders. 

Now You Know The Differences in Alcohol Abuse vs. Dependence 

These are the main differences between alcohol abuse vs. dependence. It’s important not to diagnose others as alcohol abusers or dependents but instead refer them to specialists. A specialist can correctly diagnose them and provide the treatment most likely to be effective. 

Getting the proper treatment can make a huge difference and put you or your loved one on the path towards recovery. Recovery isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to get your life back on track. So, if you or a loved one needs treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trained professional today! 

And for more information about the effects of alcohol, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We have a bunch of other helpful tips to help you create a healthier lifestyle! 


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