Alcohol is the most abused substance in the world for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that it is legal and readily available anywhere. It’s legality, and in turn, it’s availability paired with the fact that drinking is socially acceptable, contribute to why Alcohol addiction is so difficult to come to terms with.
Strictly put, Alcohol dependency is difficult to recognize and differentiate from common Alcohol abuse, as most of the signs can be brushed aside as regular use or blamed on others. Nevertheless, when it is abused there will come a time when Alcohol begins to take over your life completely, resulting in the need for professional help. But how can you possibly tell the difference between Alcohol use, abuse and dependency? It might seem hard, but there are some things you can look out for to help you tell them apart. Alcohol use differs from the other two mainly because one has complete control over how much Alcohol is consumed in one sitting. This can also be considered social drinking. It can be relatively harmless, if the person drinking does so responsibly. This is why Alcohol abuse and addiction is difficult to track; because of its frequent availability and social acceptance, figuring out and admitting that you have a problem can be tricky. In addition, American college life is often synonymous with binge drinking and the work environment is welcoming of after-work drinks to take the edge off a particularly stressful day. For many, admitting that there might be an issue can seem daunting, as one may feel weak or shameful. It’s important to understand that Alcohol consumption affects everyone differently. What may be okay for one person, may be too much for another. Addiction is a disease and there is nothing to feel ashamed about. Admitting you need treatment is a healthy step and is something to be proud off. Addiction is really as random as a toss of the dice. Some people can abuse Alcohol for years and never become dependent, while others may spend one night drinking and form an addiction. This is why its important to know the signs.
Typically, abusing Alcohol means that, unlike dependence, you can stop when you want to. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to only drink one day a week and still be an Alcohol abuser. The issue is what happens when you drink Alcohol, rather than the frequency of use. When you drink to excess and put yourself in dangerous situations, even if it’s on an average of one day a week, you are abusing Alcohol. Alcohol abuse is more about excess and the situations you put yourself in then it is about cravings and needing the substance. Another aspect of Alcohol abuse that is different than dependency is that, essentially, you are choosing to drink a large amount in a short time frame, otherwise known as binge drinking. Binge drinking is having 5 or more Alcoholic beverages in one sitting. It should also be noted that, although easier to overcome than dependency, Alcohol abuse is difficult to overcome on your own. The main difference between Alcohol abuse and Alcohol dependence is a matter of degree. Plainly speaking, how much one consumes and the reasons behind someone’s drinking factor into the differences between the two.
Alcohol dependency, otherwise known as Alcoholism, is a severe form of addiction that requires medical and professional attention to overcome. Someone who is dependent on Alcohol needs it to function on a normal level. Someone suffering from an Alcohol dependency will often have an abnormally high tolerance level, needing to drink a lot in order to achieve the same results as before. It’s a slippery slope from Alcohol abuse to dependency. When consuming so much Alcohol at one time, a tolerance will build up, and a dependency can develop. This happens when the body becomes physically addicted to a substance, leading to intense cravings and the presence of withdrawal symptoms when Alcohol is absent from the body. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, sweating, nausea, tremors, and irritability. These symptoms can start as early as two hours after the individual’s last drink. Tolerance and withdrawal are both very strong and worrying signs of Alcohol dependence. Another telling sign is the inability to stop. No matter what is planned or intended, you cannot stop yourself from drinking too much, no matter how much you try. This doesn’t make you weak, it just means you need help. Regarding yourself or a loved one, if you already believe there is a problem, then chances are there is one. Whether you are only in the abuse phase or have developed a dependence, you have a chance at turning things around. Call us now and talk to an addiction specialist, we can help you figure out if there is a problem, and if there is we can get you the right amount of help needed to get your life on track again. Don’t be afraid to call, we know how difficult this is and will never judge your situation.