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Monday, April 1, 2019

Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: What Are the Differences?

alcohol abuse
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction and its treatment. Today, we’re taking a look at two terms that you’ll likely hear when talking about alcohol addiction: alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Although these terms are often used interchangeable, understanding the differences between the two can help you to better understand the severity of your addiction and get the help you need.

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines alcohol abuse as a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work. This can include an inability to meet responsibilities at home, work or school, relationship problems and legal problems – all caused or worsened by drinking. Alcohol abuse can also cause harm to one’s mind, body and spirit.

Typically, someone who is abusing alcohol can learn from negative consequences and change their behavior with a brief intervention, including education on the dangers of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. That said, alcohol abuse is a slippery slope into alcoholism. This is especially true if you begin drinking heavily at a young age, before 15.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependency and alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake and a negative emotional state when not using, notes the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Roughly 16 million people in the U.S. have AUD – and yet less than 10 percent get proper treatment. 

To determine whether your alcohol abuse has progressed into an alcohol use disorder, the NIAAA recommends asking yourself the following questions. In the past year, have you…
  • Experienced times when you drank more or longer than you intended?
  • Tried several times to reduce or stop your drinking but couldn’t?
  • Spent a big portion of your time drinking or recovering form the aftereffects?
  • Experienced cravings, or strong urges to drink?
  • Found that drinking caused job or school troubles or caused trouble with family or friends?
  • Scaled back on activities that you used to enjoy in order to drink?
  • Gotten into more than one risky situation while or after drinking? For example, drinking while driving, walking in a dangerous area or having unsafe sex?
  • Continued to drink even though it made you feel depressed or anxious?
  • Found that you need to drink more to feel the same effects?
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms like trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea or sweating, when not drinking?
According to the NIAAA, the more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change and professional help. People diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder typically require professional help to stop drinking. This can include:
  • Detoxification
  • Disease education
  • Group & individual therapy
  • Interactive workshops
  • Peer outings & recreational opportunities
  • Fitness & nutrition guidance
  • Family therapy
  • Dual-diagnosis management

Help for Alcohol Use Disorders

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol dependency, Hope Academy can help you get the help you need today. To learn more about our young adult alcohol rehab, call toll-free today: 866-930-4673. 

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