What are the Differences Between Drug Addiction and Alcoholism?

A person who abuses alcohol may also be dependent on alcohol, but they may also be able to stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. People with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder may benefit from self-help to beat alcohol addiction. It is a more private way of recovering from alcohol dependence, but it can only be successful with a lot of self-restraint.

  • Poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence.
  • A similar UK study found the prevalence of alcohol dependence to be 6% in 16- to 19-year-olds, 8.2% in 20- to 24–year-olds, 3.6% in 30- to 34-year-olds and 2.3% in 50- to 54–year-olds (Drummond et al., 2005).
  • Therapy helps change the thought patterns that were the root cause of excessive drinking and teaches you to cope with stress in healthy ways.
  • A person may feel compelled to drink for many reasons; this includes trauma, depression, stress, coping, anxiety, or shame.
  • Alcohol use to this extent is very serious and can result in cirrhosis, liver cancer and death if it goes on long enough.

Binge drinking, another form of alcohol abuse, is defined as four or more drinks in one sitting for women or five or more drinks in one sitting for men. A person with AUD is likely drinking enough to demonstrate alcohol abuse, but it is possible to abuse alcohol without meeting the diagnostic criteria for an AUD. Long-term, excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems.

The path from alcohol abuse to alcoholism

Though the physical wakes left by alcohol and drugs differ, it is crucial to understand addiction in terms of its total cost to human beings. But it is their similarities, and not their differences, that the addicted person feels most closely, whether it is pain pills or vodka that soothes their inner turmoil. People suffering from alcoholism may partake in the same dangerous activities as heavy drinkers, but the difference is alcoholics are physically dependent on alcohol. They cannot control their use of alcohol even if it causes them and others emotional and/or physical distress. The first category of costs is that of treating the medical consequences of alcohol misuse and treating alcohol misuse. The second category of health-related costs includes losses in productivity by workers who misuse alcohol.

What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

During pregnancy alcohol can cause harm to the foetus, which can cause prematurity, stillbirth and the developmental disorder fetal alcohol syndrome. They don’t need alcoholic beverages to feel normal, even though they enjoy heavy drinking. In fact, some binge drinkers can go without alcohol for days, weeks, or even months.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

FASDs can cause a child to be born with physical and developmental problems that last a lifetime. People with a history of emotional trauma or other trauma are at increased risk of alcohol use disorder. The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening and counseling for excessive drinking for all adult patients.

  • People who are problem drinkers and those struggling with alcohol use disorder both have unhealthy relationships with alcohol, but problem drinkers aren’t necessarily addicted to alcohol nor have an AUD.
  • In addition, 21% of adult men and 14% of women met the government’s criteria for binge drinking.
  • Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of alcoholism and a huge red flag.
  • 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.

In addition those who are not dependent may be candidates for other clinical interventions, including screening and counseling offered by doctors and other health professionals. Excessive drinking includes binge drinking ; consuming eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 or more drinks a week for men; or any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism legal drinking age of 21. Spouses and children of heavy drinkers may face family violence; children may suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect and develop psychological problems. Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses. Relatives, friends and strangers can be injured or killed in alcohol-related accidents and assaults.

Addiction and Mental Health Resources

Social and environmental factors such as peer pressure and the easy availability of alcohol can play key roles. Poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence. Adelstein and colleagues found that cirrhosis mortality rates are higher than the national average for men from the Asian subcontinent and Ireland, but lower than average for men of African–Caribbean origin. Cirrhosis mortality was lower in Asian and African–Caribbean women but higher in Irish women. However, because there were few total deaths in ethnic minority groups this may lead to large errors in estimating prevalence in this population. Studies in England have tended to find over-representation of Indian-, Scottish- and Irish-born people and under-representation in those of African–Caribbean or Pakistani origin (Harrison & Luck, 1997).

Treatment of alcohol withdrawal is, however, only the beginning of rehabilitation and, for many, a necessary precursor to a longer-term treatment process. Withdrawal management should therefore not be seen as a standalone treatment. Screening and brief intervention delivered by a non-specialist practitioner is a cost-effective approach for hazardous and harmful drinkers . However, for people who are alcohol dependent, brief interventions are less effective and referral to a specialist service is likely to be necessary (Moyer et al., 2002).

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