Alcohol Abuse Vs Alcoholism: Whats The Difference?

By November 16, 2023 Sober living No Comments

Alcohol dependence was originally defined as a chronic medical condition characterized by experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when the person stops consuming alcohol. To avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the person has to keep consuming alcohol. Alcohol misuse refers to single episodes during which you might drink excessively. When this occurs repeatedly over time, and when it begins to impact your health and your life, alcohol misuse can become AUD. The disorder can also be broken down further into mild, moderate, and severe subtypes.

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In a world where social gatherings and celebrations often include alcohol, it’s essential to grasp the nuances between different levels of alcohol-related concerns. The terms “alcohol abuse” and “alcoholism” are frequently used, but they represent distinct stages on the spectrum of problematic alcohol consumption. Understanding the differences between these terms can pave the way for informed decisions, early intervention, and the right support for individuals and their loved ones. Alcoholism is a disease characterized by persistent use and often a physical addiction to alcohol. The person suffering from this disease will feel like they cannot cope with day to day life without drinking.

The Neurobiology of Alcoholism

Are you seeking alcoholism treatment for yourself or a loved one struggling with alcoholism? Do you have a spouse, child, relative or friend who you suspect struggles with alcohol abuse? Alcohol rehab can help people ready to address their substance use disorder. Those abusing alcohol (or simply drinking too many drinks at one time or over a set period) may not develop alcohol dependence if they cut back on drinking. Alcohol abuse, also called problem drinking, occurs when drinking alcohol becomes an issue that creates negative consequences for a person. When blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches levels of .2%, the risk of death and coma increases.

what is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism

You may have AUD if you continue to drink despite any physical, emotional, and social consequences you experience. Perhaps you even want to drink less, or stop drinking entirely, but find yourself unable to quit. The most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” includes AUD as a mental health diagnosis. When this happens, research shows, alcoholics and addicts have a reduced ability to control their powerful impulse to use the substance, even when they are aware it is not in their best interest. At this point, their reward system has become pathological, or, in other words, diseased. With continued use of alcohol or drugs, nerve cells in the basal ganglia “scale back” their sensitivity to dopamine, reducing alcohol’s ability to produce the same “high” it once produced.

Kentucky (KY) Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rehab Center

Alcohol addiction treatment is more effective when loved ones are supportive. Treatment centers can help a person to stop drinking while therapy services are utilized to teach healthy coping mechanisms. Therapy will also help a person deal with the mental health and emotional issues that contribute to addiction. If you’re looking for the definition of unhealthy alcohol use to understand how your own drinking habits measure up, that’s an incredible act of self-care. As you learn more about alcohol use disorder, remember that you don’t need to check any boxes or meet any criteria to stop drinking alcohol  and start researching online alcohol treatment options. Curiosity in how drinking less can give you more is all you need to make a change.

  • At this stage, the person is no longer drinking to experience pleasure.
  • A doctor, substance abuse therapist or counselor should help you and your loved one choose the type of treatment that’s right for you.
  • The first step is always to see your doctor about your struggles and learn what they recommend depending on how severe the alcohol use is.
  • Our team of addiction medicine experts are compassionate and committed to making addiction treatment accessible, understandable, and affordable.

Read on to learn more about alcohol dependence vs. Alcohol abuse below. If you or a loved one show signs of overdose, contact your local emergency services immediately. Alcohol poisoning can get dangerous quickly, what is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism and it’s sometimes fatal. Below, we’ll compare and contrast these two patterns of alcohol use in more detail, plus offer some guidance on identifying your options for getting treatment and support.

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