Alcohol Abuse Vs Dependence: What’s the Difference?

It can lead to a wide range of negative consequences and long-term effects. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that causes harm or distress. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse so that those who are suffering can get help. That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals.

  • You can take them with you to your next appointment to talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Treatment can help you develop new patterns and habits so AUD doesn’t develop.
  • The difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism is that someone with an AUD has a chronic medical condition and has lost control of their drinking.
  • Alcohol dependence is also known by many other terms like alcoholism or alcohol addiction.
  • Alcohol is an accepted drug, which means many people drink alcohol.

An episode of binge drinking can bring your blood alcohol content (BAC) to dangerous, even life-threatening levels. As a result, you might experience a blackout, vomit, or even pass out. For years, terms like “alcohol abuse,” “alcohol dependence,” “alcoholism,” and “alcohol use disorder” have often been used interchangeably to describe this condition.

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You experience intense cravings to drink alcohol, and find yourself unable to stop drinking even when you want to. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

If you have NPD and AUD, finding support can be challenging because they are two separate disorders with two separate treatment approaches. One example is being referred to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on the presumption of AUD. In such cases, a person might start to question the diagnosis and abandon treatment altogether even if another condition, such as NPD, actually exists.

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Excess drinking can affect your physical and mental health in many different ways. When used by a physician to screen patients for possible AUDs, two positive responses to the four CAGE questions indicate that further assessment is needed. Keep in mind that, while helpful in determining whether your current drinking habits could be problematic, these tests should not be considered a medical diagnosis. A practice called dry January (no drinking alcohol for a month) has gained popularity in recent years on social media and in real life. People say they do it to give their bodies a rest after holiday partying, to lose a few pounds and to improve sleep. Alcoholism is an outdated term used to describe what’s now called AUD.

  • The definition of AUD also includes the impact that such drinking has on your health and life.
  • If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, very rarely will you hear the term alcohol use disorder.
  • Again, if care is not coordinated by a qualified mental health professional, the overlapping treatments can lead to drug interactions, unintended side effects, and the possible abandonment of treatment.
  • If you abstain from drinking for a few days and experience anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, or nausea, there’s a possibility you’re suffering from alcohol-related withdrawals.
  • Treatment can help people control their cravings and live with their altered brain cells.

Alcohol is an accepted drug, which means many people drink alcohol. In fact, bars and restaurants encourage drinking and other alcohol-related behaviors. Friends and family members who abuse alcohol are also more likely to encourage alcohol consumption.

Understanding Alcoholism

Those with moderate to severe alcohol use disorders generally require outside help to stop drinking. This could include detoxification, medical treatment, professional rehab distinguish between alcohol abuse and alcoholism or counseling, and/or self-help group support. This is a chronic, lifelong disease in which the body is physically dependent on alcohol in order to feel “normal”.

However, there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Since AUD is a legitimate medical condition, people with this diagnosis often require treatment to help them stop drinking. Treatment typically begins with a medical detox program, which can provide support and medication to patients as they withdraw from alcohol. Attempting to withdraw on your own without a detox program can be dangerous, as alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal in some cases. The primary difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism is that alcoholism refers to a legitimate medical condition, while alcohol abuse does not.

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