What is alcohol abuse?
Abusers are typically heavy drinkers who continue drinking regardless of the results. Alcohol can be an addictive substance. Not everyone who consumes alcohol will become addicted. However, certain people may be more susceptible to addiction.
It should be noted that alcohol addiction and abuse are not the same. It’s important to understand the facts on alcohol abuse. Alcohol addiction refers to a psychological and physical dependency on alcohol. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction may build up a tolerance to the substance, as well as continue drinking even when alcohol-related problems become evident.
Alcohol abusers are not necessarily addicted to alcohol. Abusers are typically heavy drinkers who continue drinking regardless of the results. Abusers of alcohol may not drink on a consistent basis. For example, an individual who abuses alcohol may only drink once a week. However, when that individual drinks, he puts himself into risky situations or drinks enough to cause problems, such as alcohol poisoning. Certain individuals who abuse alcohol may eventually become dependent on it.
What is Alcohol dependence?
Alcoholism is the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. Symptoms include repeated alcohol consumption despite related legal and health issues. Those with alcoholism may begin each day with a drink, feel guilty about their drinking, and have the desire to cut down on the amount of drinking.
Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) consists of four symptoms:
Craving: a strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
Loss of control: the inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Serious dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, starting eight to twelve hours after the last drink. The delirium tremens (D.T.’s) begins three to four days later where the person becomes extremely agitated, shakes, hallucinates and loses touch with reality.
Tolerance: the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get high.
The Differences of Alcoholism Vs. Alcohol Abuse
Signs of Alcoholism
Someone who is dependent on alcohol needs it to get through the day. They also have a high tolerance, needing increasingly drinks to feel any effect. Alcoholics also suffer from withdrawal and will drink to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal, which include anxiety, tremors, sweating, insomnia, nausea, depression, fatigue, headache, and irritability.
Tolerance and withdrawal are very telling signs of alcoholism (alcohol dependence). There are others too, which include:
- Losing control – you cannot stop yourself from drinking too much and too often, no matter how hard you try.
- Drinking despite the legal, financial, and personal problems that it is causing you.
- Allowing alcohol, drinking, and thinking about drinking to dominate your day-to-day responsibilities and activities.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is a matter of degree. If you are abusing alcohol, but are not yet dependent on it, you may experience a little bit of tolerance or a small degree of withdrawal, but nothing as severe as what a true alcoholic goes through.
As an abuser, your first signs will more likely be neglecting responsibilities so you can drink. For instance, you must call in sick to work often because of hangovers, or you don’t spend enough time with your kids because you feel the need to go out drinking with friends.
Other signs of abuse include:
- Taking serious risks while drinking – maybe you drink and drive or you mix alcohol with prescription drugs to enhance your high.
- Continue to use alcohol even when you get sick or hurt from drinking.
- Your drinking is attached to emotions, such as drinking to destress or to cope with feelings of depression.
Although alcohol abuse and alcoholism are very similar there is a difference between the two and alcohol abuse can very easily turn into alcoholism, it is very important to seek help right away if you or someone you love may think they are developing a problem.