Sober living

Alcohol Abuse vs Alcoholism

Alcoholism, now known as alcohol use disorder, is a condition in which a person has a desire or physical need to consume alcohol, even though it has a negative impact on their life. Long-term, excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol use has been heavy and prolonged and is then stopped or greatly reduced. Signs and symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, problems sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms can be severe enough to impair your ability to function at work or in social situations.

What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Yet they continue to drink despite these consequences, which can lead to long-term issues with their physical or mental health. Technically, the difference between substance abuse and substance dependence relates to the number and type of potential diagnostic criteria What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism a person meets. These repercussions were considered signs that the individual had a serious problem even if that person did not meet the diagnostic criteria for an addiction. Essentially, someone with alcohol dependence would most likely have an issue with abuse.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

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.

Very high concentrations of alcohol in the blood can cause breathing problems, coma, or death. AUD refers to what is colloquially known as alcoholism, which is a term that the DSM-5 no longer uses. If you’re struggling with alcohol use and need someone to talk to, contact us today.

Back to Mental Health

It’s important to understand the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence because they can have different consequences and may require different treatments. Over the long- or medium-term, excessive drinking can significantly alter the levels of these brain chemicals. This causes the body to crave alcohol in order to feel good and avoid feeling bad. Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior. Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder.

  • Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help.
  • Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor.
  • The definition of AUD also includes the impact that such drinking has on your health and life.
  • It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours.
  • The functional type is generally working adults who are middle-aged, educated, have good jobs, higher incomes than the other types, and relatively stable relationships.
  • You often drink more alcohol than you wanted to, for longer than you intended, or despite telling yourself you wouldn’t.

It’s common for people with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol use disorder. In addition to those services and the organizations listed below, ask friends and family for help and support. Most people who care about you will be glad to support your efforts to reduce your drinking or drug use. The person continues to drink alcohol despite having the problems listed above and/or problems continue to worsen as a result of drinking. The term substance dependence was believed to be a more descriptive term than addiction, and it was adopted until 2013 when DSM-5 was released. With this release, the entire scheme for diagnosing what most of us think of as “addiction” was changed.

Next step: Finding help for a drinking problem

Denial is one of the biggest obstacles to getting help for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The desire to drink is so strong that the mind finds many ways to rationalize drinking, even when the consequences are obvious. By keeping you from looking honestly at your behavior and its negative effects, denial also exacerbates alcohol-related problems with work, finances, and relationships.

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