Alcohol Dependence Is Different From Alcohol Abuse

What is a gateway drug?

Just about everyone abuses alcohol. Alcohol abuse is loosely defined as any kind of alcohol consumption done in excess. Binge drinking, for example, is a form of alcohol abuse. Any amount of drinking which results in the blood alcohol concentration level rising to 0.08 percent is binge drinking and thereby abusive drinking. Abusive drinking is not necessarily dependent drinking, however. Binge and abusive drinking is done on occasion. Occasionally drinking in abusive levels is what many people do. People drink normally, often, and abnormally not often. Getting drunk, wasted, obliterated, inebriated, and otherwise belligerent might happen often, fairly often, or not often at all. The amount of alcohol being consumed and how often it is being consumed does not define alcohol dependence. Outside of these occasions, no matter how close together, the individual is still able to function without alcohol. That is because they are not dependent on them.

Alcohol dependence is exactly what the name indicates- being completely dependent on alcohol. Dependency on alcohol is different from dependency on alcohol abuse. Easily, someone who routinely abuses alcohol could say that they are “dependent” upon that time. Their time getting drunk and over consuming alcohol is what gives them pleasure, relief, allows them to have fun, or serves some other kind of purpose. Emotional dependency on alcohol is certainly part of the problem. Being emotionally dependent on alcohol to feel more like yourself is a sign of an issue with alcohol. Consistently abusing alcohol to strengthen that crutch of emotional dependency can lead to the greater problem: chemical dependence.

Chemical dependence on alcohol is alcohol dependence fully manifested. Once you become chemically dependent on alcohol there typically is no going back. Meaning, your body and your brain will likely never respond to alcohol the same way again. Due to the tolerance your brain and body have created, you are consuming more alcohol to get a similar or greater effect. As a result, your brain will always crave the highest amount of alcohol you once consumed. Chemical dependence on alcohol means not being able to think, feel, or function normally without alcohol in the system. Symptoms of withdrawal become obvious at the point, which, for regular alcohol abusers, usually means the party is officially over.


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