Not everyone who abuses alcohol will develop a dependence to it. Of course, there’s a large risk to developing a dependence since the body and brain will begin to respond to the regular ingestion of alcohol. However, it’s an important distinction to make. When one has a dependence to alcohol, he or she will likely have to participate in a form of alcohol abuse treatment in order to stop drinking. Yet, those who are not dependent to alcohol may or may not have to seek treatment to stop. Without a psychological and physical dependence, it might be easier to quit.
A dependence to alcohol can sometimes develop slowly. At other times, it might develop when a stressful event in one’s life takes place, such as a death in the family or the loss of one’s job. Still, for others, alcoholism might develop right away if someone has a genetic predisposition to addiction. Of course, as mentioned, anyone who is abusing alcohol regularly can also more easily develop a dependence.
So, alcoholism is the condition of having a dependence to the substance while alcohol abuse is simply the overusing and abusing of alcohol without necessarily having a dependence to it. Alcoholism includes all the consequences that come with alcohol abuse, such as poor health, hangovers, poor relationships, and more. However, it also includes building tolerance to alcohol and withdrawal symptoms, which are indicative of a dependence. However, in both cases, alcohol abuse treatment might be necessary.
If you enjoy drinking and you find yourself drinking regularly, you may want to review the following list of signs and symptoms of alcoholism:
When the body has adapted to the alcohol, requiring more of it to achieve the same effect, you are developing tolerance to the alcohol. Tolerance means that, over time, you need more alcohol to feel the same effect.
When you attempt to stop drinking, you might notice physical or mental symptoms if alcohol use comes to an end. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Examples of withdrawal symptoms with alcohol include anxiety or jumpiness, shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite and headaches. In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.
Loss of Control:
When you cannot stop, even though you want to, and you’ve lost control over your drinking, this is a sign of alcoholism. You have a persistent desire to cut down or stop your alcohol use, but all efforts to stop and stay stopped, have been unsuccessful.
Neglecting Other Activities:
When you are drinking and even fantasizing about drinking to the point that drinking becomes the sole focus of your life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities, there might be alcoholism. For instance, if you are spending less time on activities that used to be important to you (hanging out with family and friends, exercising- going to the gym, pursuing your hobbies or other interests) because of the use of alcohol, there may be an addiction.
When you’re spending much of your time thinking about drinking, planning when you can drink, fantasizing about drinking, and recovering from its effects, you may be struggling with alcoholism. You might have a few interests, such as social or community involvements that don’t revolve around the use of alcohol. However, you’re main preoccupation is with alcohol.
Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences:
This is paired with having an inability to stop. Even though drinking is causing problems, you continue to drink. For instance, you might realize that your alcohol use is interfering with your ability to do your job, damaging your marriage, making your problems worse, or causing health problems, but you continue to drink. This is also a sign of alcoholism.
The above list are indications that point to possibly having a dependence to alcohol. It is different than abusing alcohol. However, it might be obvious that the regular abuse of alcohol will eventually lead to alcoholism. In any case, when alcohol is a driving force in your life, whether you have a dependence or not, participating in alcohol abuse treatment might be necessary. To do so, contact a mental health professional in your community.
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