What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence?

There are many different terms thrown around regarding alcohol consumption, such as alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence. While they may seem to refer to the same thing—and some are interchangeable—each is somewhat different. So, what is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence? And how do you know if you have a troubled relationship with alcohol?

Distinguishing between alcohol abuse vs dependence is the first step toward knowing if you need to make a change in your life and what type of action to take going forward. If alcohol consumption is interfering with your health or relationships, it may be time to reach out for help. Call Promises Right Step at 17135283709 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you achieve your goals for a sober future.

What Is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence?

What is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence? Although they might seem similar, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence have some key differences.

Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of drinking that leads to negative consequences. It can involve behaviors like:

  • Binge drinking, which consists of four or more drinks on an occasion for women and five or more for men
  • Heavy drinking, which is defined as eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men
  • Drinking under the legal age of 21
  • Drinking while pregnant

On the other hand, alcohol dependence, which is often used interchangeably with alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder, describes an inability to control alcohol consumption despite the adverse effects. 

Basically, alcohol abuse is a problematic drinking behavior that can lead to alcohol dependence, a chronic condition that may require professional addiction treatment. And while alcohol dependence is a result of alcohol abuse, not all people who abuse alcohol become dependent on it.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Dependence

How do you know if you or someone else is abusing alcohol and whether they have become alcohol dependent? Knowing the difference is crucial because if you spot the signs of alcohol abuse early on, it will be much easier to modify your drinking behaviors to prevent alcohol dependence.

Here are some telltale signs of alcohol abuse:

  • Neglecting work, school, or personal obligations
  • Engaging in hazardous behaviors, such as driving under the influence
  • Experiencing legal issues due to drinking, such as getting arrested for driving while intoxicated or getting into a physical altercation
  • Using alcohol as a means to numb yourself when dealing with stress
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences

You can tell a person may have developed alcohol dependence if you notice the following signs:

  • Building a tolerance to alcohol and needing larger quantities to feel the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including nausea, sweating, anxiety, and tremors
  • Spending a lot of time either obtaining alcohol, drinking alcohol or recovering from the effects

Once a person is alcohol dependent, it can be challenging to stop drinking without the help of professionals. But without proper treatment, this condition can have lasting consequences on your physical, psychological, and social well-being.

Call Promises Right Step for Help with Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are different, but both can have severe and life-threatening consequences. If you or someone you know is struggling with harmful drinking behaviors, you can find the help you need at Promises Right Step. Call us today at 17135283709 or fill out our online form to talk to one of our friendly staff members about our full range of comprehensive addiction treatment programs.

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