Some might not realize that there’s a difference between alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction. It isn’t uncommon to see these terms used interchangeably, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences. However, alcohol addiction is the beginning stage of alcohol dependence. Both of these issues start when someone abuses alcohol.
Identifying the Difference Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction has both mental and physical effects. Alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction usually puts an individual at a far higher risk of becoming dependent. When an individual has an alcohol dependence, their brain chemistry has altered due to alcohol abuse, and they require it to function normally. Let’s break down the definitions to help you understand these terms better:
- Alcohol abuse: When someone drinks excessively and too frequently. Abusing alcohol refers to self-destructive and harmful drinking patterns.
- Alcohol use disorder: You might see this as AUD, and it’s when someone receives a medical diagnosis for their compulsive drinking. It is the progressive and long-lasting compulsion to drink. These individuals typically cannot control how much they drink.
- Alcohol dependence: Those who have alcohol dependence are unable to stop drinking despite the adverse effects it’s having on their life.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Those suffering from addiction typically need to participate in a 12-step program or something similar to help treat their condition. Signs and symptoms that you might need an alcohol addiction treatment program include:
- You can’t say no to using alcohol
- You’re starting to become secretive or dishonest
- Your appearance looks tired, unwell, or irritable
- You seem to be drunk more often
- There’s a lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- There might be mental health issues, including anxiety or depression, developing
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence
When someone develops alcohol tolerance or suffers from withdrawals when they don’t drink, that’s when alcohol dependence is occurring. Those who have an alcohol dependence issue need to consume more to experience the same feelings. Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence include:
- You can’t think about anything aside from when you can drink again
- Despite trying more than once, you can’t cut back or stop drinking
- Not drinking causes withdrawal symptoms, including tremors
- You’re drinking more or for longer timeframes than you originally planned
- You don’t stop drinking even though it’s causing personal and relationship problems
- You’re binge drinking five or more time within 30 days
- You spend the majority of your time drinking or recovering from drinking
About Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re suffering from alcohol dependence, then you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop drinking. Participating in an alcohol addiction treatment program can help you go through these symptoms comfortably and safely.
Examples of withdrawals from alcohol that could appear approximately six hours after abstaining include:
- Anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
- Dilated pupils
- Exhaustion and insomnia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shaky hands and sweating
Between twelve and twenty-four hours after stopping alcohol use, severe symptoms could start presenting themselves:
- Cardiac arrest
- Confusion and extreme agitation
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate or racing heart
How to Tell if Alcohol Dependence is Happening
There are two tell-tale signs of alcohol dependence. Those are developing tolerance and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. If you feel like you’re drinking more than usual to experience the same feelings, then you could be developing tolerance to alcohol.
Some feel like, because they’re developing a tolerance, it’s the ideal time to stop drinking. However, that isn’t the case. Tolerance is often followed-up with withdrawals. If you’re drinking to help get rid of withdrawal symptoms, that’s a red flag that you’re suffering from alcohol dependence.
Contact Northern Illinois Recovery Center Today to Discuss Alcohol Dependence
If you still have questions about the difference between alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence, now is the time to get the answers you need. At Northern Illinois Recovery Center, our staff is available to talk to you or a loved one about treatment options. Contact Northern Illinois Recovery Center at 855.786.1978 to learn more about our services.