Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Dependence / Addiction – Symptoms of Alcoholism
Let's define the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction or dependence.
The Definition of Alcohol Abuse from Psychology Today:
Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:
- Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities
- Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving a car or operating machinery
- Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for physically hurting someone while drunk
- Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking
It is possibly to abuse alcohol and not be addicted or physically dependent on alcohol as a drug. Basically if you are binge drinking and getting into trouble because of your drinking you are abusing alcohol however that does not make you an alcoholic and you may not have a physical dependancy. Many people who abuse alcohol can go long periods of time without any withdrawal symptoms or any side effects at all from not drinking, when they do drink however it generally means there will be problems.
Alcohol dependence is a substance-related disorder in which an individual is physically or psychologically dependent upon drinking alcohol.
This is when you start having withdrawal symptoms when you don't drink, your body has gotten so use to having alcohol in it that it doesn't know how to properly function without a certain level of alcohol in your blood now. You are physically dependent on alcohol, without it you will feel terrible as well as plenty of other symptoms.
You can abuse alcohol and not be dependent on alcohol however it is difficult to be dependent on alcohol and not abuse it. That said there are people who are physically dependent to alcohol but wouldn't fall into the category of alcohol abuse. You can develop a physical dependance to alcohol with even a small regular amounts.
Alcohol Dependance or Addiction
From Psychology Today:
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is a chronic disease characterized by the consumption of alcohol at a level that interferes with physical and mental health and with family and social responsibilities. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious health, family, or legal problems.
Alcoholism is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Alcoholism is chronic: It lasts a person's lifetime. It usually follows a predictable course and has recognizable symptoms.
Technically Alcohol dependance and alcohol addiction are the same thing, but I tend to break them up since as I said it is possible to be alcohol dependent and never be a "drunk."
A list of the Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Some of the symptoms of Alcohol Abuse, basically negative life consequences of your drinking. It is possible to have some, all or any mix of the following and there are plenty more that could be added to this list. For the sake of simplicity we will just list the more common ones.
- Your having problems at work or school because of drinking, being late, not showing up or showing up drunk.
- Drinking in risky situations, before or while driving a car, before or while at work.
- Your having memory loss due to your drinking and can't remember what happened or what you did, blackouts.
- Your in trouble with the law due to booze, such as being arrested for harming someone or drunk driving.
- You get hurt or you hurt someone else when you are drinking. (being a drunk dickhead)
- Having health problems caused by drinking that are made worse by alcohol use, such as liver disease and then continue drinking.
- Your friends or family members are worried about your drinking, telling you that you drink to much, are mean when your drunk again, being a dickhead.
A list of Symptoms of Alcoholism
You can add everything in the above list on alcohol abuse to symptoms of alcoholism as well. Also same as above, you can have some of these symptoms, all of them or any combination.
- You can't quit drinking or control how much you drink once you start
- You have developed a tolerance and need to drink more to get to the same level of pissed
- Your having withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking. These could include upset stomach, sweating, shakes, anxiety and headaches
- You spend a lot of time drinking and being hungover
- You might quite doing other activities you use to enjoy so you can drink
- You don't stop drinking till it is all gone or you pass out
Some other symptoms of alcoholism might include:
- You drink in the morning, having an 'eye opener'
- You regularly drink alone, or hand out with others that spend most of their time drinking
- You feel guilty after drinking and find yourself apologizing later
- You make excuses for your drinking or try to hide it, maybe going to different stores to buy it because you are wondering what the cashier thinks of you?
- You worry about your supply of booze, do you have a enough for the night or weekend? Do you have enough till your next paycheck?
So there is a bit of a list, however with all the people I have worked with over the years that were struggling with alcoholism and and asked me "what are the symptoms of alcoholism," they already knew if they were an alcoholic or not. I know we try to fool ourselves and make excuses and stories up to justify our drinking but deep down inside we know if we are an alcoholic or not without looking at any list of symptoms of alcoholism.
Look in the mirror, do you like what you see? If not then maybe it is time to do something about it. When I have been talking to people about their possible admittance into a rehab I generally don't care to much about how much you drink in a day or week, I am more concerned with how does it affect your life.
I have spoken to literally tens of thousands of people struggling with addiction and showing all the symptoms of alcoholism. One symptom of alcoholism that we didn't put in here is denial, basically denying to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol. You know what though, most everyone by the time they started looking for a solution were past that point. I never once had anyone say, "You know I don't have any problem with alcohol at all, I'm just doing this because my wife wants me to go." I know there are people in complete denial, but they are not reading websites about the symptoms of alcoholism or calling a guy that can advise which is the best treatment for them.
By the time someone gets to the point of picking up the phone or researching symptoms of alcoholism the penny had already drop and they know it is time to try and get some help. If I can help you in any way, be it advice on the best place you can get treatment or possibly a referral to a local therapist, don't hesitate to get in touch with me.