alcohol dependence vs abuse

Alcohol Dependence vs Abuse: What Are the Differences?

The average American drinks about 1.35 drinks per day.

That means they are drinking more than 365 drinks per year. But does this mean that they have alcohol dependence? Or does this mean that they are abusing alcohol?

The answer is no. But how can you tell the difference between alcohol dependence vs abuse and what is normal?

Keep reading this guide to learn more.

What Is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence means that someone depends on alcohol so much that it is too hard to stop or quit using.

In addition to not being able to quit, alcohol dependence may also mean that someone’s tolerance continues to increase as they drink more. This means it takes more alcohol to make them feel the effects or feel drunk. Because of this, those who are alcohol dependent drink more and for longer to feel it.

This can often lead to alcohol abuse.

If you think someone is dependent on alcohol (or you think you are), you may notice the following:

  • Increase in alcohol tolerance – what used to affect you no longer does and you drink more to feel it
  • Withdrawal symptoms: An experience of feeling symptoms like tremors, shaking, and mental issues after going a short period of time without drinking
  • Drinking to relieve symptoms: This could mean drinking to avoid a hangover

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that leads to the failure of everyday activities. Someone who abuses alcohol may not be able to fulfill responsibilities at work, home, or school. It can also lead to times where it can be physically and mentally harmful to their health.

Someone who abuses alcohol often will not stop using alcohol, even when it is harming themselves or others in the moment. It is the use of alcohol that leads to health problems, social problems, interpersonal problems, and more, but nothing is done about it.

An important thing to note is that just because you are abusing alcohol doesn’t mean that you are dependent on it. This could mean that you abuse it when you binge drink on the weekends; however, during the week, you don’t drink at all. You abuse it on the weekends but are not dependent.

The use of alcohol in this way can often lead to alcohol poisoning and often hospitalizations because of it.

Knowing alcohol poisoning symptoms can help in case there is ever a time that someone who abuses alcohol needs help.

Alcohol Dependence vs Abuse

Now that you know the difference between alcohol dependence vs abuse, you can easily tell the signs and symptoms to watch out for. If you notice that it is becoming a problem that you have or that a loved one has, it may be time to get them or yourself help.

If you enjoyed learning about this, you can read some similar articles on the blog.

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