What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction?
The use of alcohol causes significant problems for many people. With approximately 25% of adults ages 18 and over engaging in binge drinking in the past month, almost everyone has someone in their life that could be an alcohol abuser. Truly, this is a problem that impacts almost everyone.
However, it can often be difficult for people to understand just what type of alcohol problem they’re dealing with. Since many alcohol users don’t self-identify as having a problem, many alcohol problems go unnoticed. It’s important, then, for everyone to understand the signs of both alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction–and to understand the difference between the two.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of behavior. It is not, by itself, a dependency. That said, alcohol abuse can often develop into a whole host of other problems. People who indulge in alcohol abuse typically:
- Make alcohol a focus for their social life
- Lose control of their behavior while drinking
- Become erratic in regards to their social and professional obligations
- Experience mood swings and fits of anger
The distinguishing factor for an alcohol abuser is that they often recognize that their behavior is problematic. This awareness leads observers to believe that they don’t have a persistent problem. Rather, it’s often assumed that the alcohol abuser simply made a poor decision that evening. However, abusers often make these behaviors a habit, and the certainly need help regulating their behavior.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, on the other hand, is a true addiction. This means that the addict could have complications when they cease drinking, and their body may have developed a dependency on alcohol to function. The signs that an addict is suffering symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Excessive sweating
In these situations, it is important to get the addict into an environment where they can receive professional help. These symptoms can be life-threatening and should not be ignored. Only with the help of professionally trained medical personnel can an addict’s needs be appropriately met.
Distinguishing Between These Two Conditions
Alcohol abuse is more common that people think. It is the third largest cause of preventable death in the United States each year. Alcoholism, on the other hand, isn’t quite as common–but no less serious. An alcohol addict is exposed to all of the same dangers related to alcohol abuse.
An abuser is easily spotted by their social drinking behavior. They are often the life of the party, having fun and over-indulging in their favorite alcoholic beverage. Also, they tend to contain their drinking to socially acceptable times and places. They can go a great deal of time without abusing alcohol, but will typically return to the practice at some point.
Alcohol addicts are often much more secretive. Because of their tolerance for alcohol, they often don’t appear inebriated in public. They are also prone to significant hangovers, creating the illusion of inexperience with alcohol. However, their drinking is usually constant. They will often sneak off during working hours to have a drink, and will spend hours at home alone drinking.
The biggest similarity between these two conditions is that they both require professional help to contain. Both the addict and the abuser is engaging in a behavior that will have a profoundly negative impact on their life. They both need help to see the gravity of their situation and support as they navigate the recovery process.
Inpatient treatment, while a strong response, is an ideal solution for both the abuser and the addict. These services provide a controlled environment that gives patients the best possible chance for successful treatment. Both alcohol abuse and addiction are serious medical conditions and should be treated as such.