Many people who drink alcohol might not consider that their alcohol use could be alcohol dependence. They may use alcohol to “unwind” after work or a stressful moment, to celebrate holidays and big events, or to do what everyone else is doing when they spend time with friends or family.
Frequent alcohol use in these situations — even though they might be socially acceptable — can cause people to become tolerant to alcohol’s effects, however. The more people drink, the more they become used to alcohol. Over time, they adapt to a quantity of alcohol and drink more to feel its effects. That is when it’s time to consider they might have alcohol dependence. Contact Las Vegas Recovery Center if you are concerned about alcohol addiction.
Is Alcohol Dependence the Same as Alcohol Addiction?
Although some people use the terms “alcohol addiction” and “alcohol dependence,” interchangeably, they are different. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines physical dependence as becoming tolerant to a substance and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when using that substance is stopped.
Alcohol addiction, however, is a person’s inability to stop using alcohol. With addiction, drinking alcohol takes priority over other aspects of life, including work and family responsibilities. People with alcohol addiction drink to the detriment of everything and everyone else.
Being physically dependent on alcohol can exist along with alcohol addiction, but the two terms are separate.
Signs of Alcohol Dependence
Chronic substance abuse can lead to physical dependence. When people have alcohol dependence, they may show signs such as:
- Having more than one drink per day regularly
- Feeling “hungover” frequently
- Needing to drink more and more alcohol to feel its effects
- Being emotionally or psychologically dependent on drinking because it’s become an ingrained habit
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms like sweating, nausea, shaking, dizziness, trouble sleeping, or a racing heart
Additional symptoms such as not being able to stop at one drink, using alcohol throughout the day, having urges or cravings for alcohol, or continuing to drink even when it causes problems may mean alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Dependence Is an Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction are considered an alcohol use disorder — an unhealthy preoccupation with the use of alcohol. When drinking in excess negatively affects health and life, it’s time to get medical help.
Even though a person may “only” have alcohol dependence and not addiction, it’s still an alcohol use disorder with adverse effects on life. And although many people with an alcohol use disorder can hold jobs and may appear to have happy lives, their high-functioning dependence or addiction is harmful. Eventually, people who are high-functioning will find their lives unmanageable.
Recovery from Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol use disorder may be deceptive in this way because alcohol is legal and easy to obtain, and its use is condoned and even encouraged by society. Compared to using drugs, using alcohol in excess doesn’t seem as “bad,” so people with alcohol dependence might not see the need to get help.
Seeking help is essential to recovery. People who are dependent on alcohol need to learn how to live without drinking. Not only do they need professional support to learn new habits, but they may need medical supervision when they stop. Long-term alcohol use affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, like GABA and serotonin. When people stop drinking, lower levels of these neurotransmitters can lead to anxiety or seizures. Medically monitored detox provides a safe environment where people can begin their life of recovery.
Las Vegas Recovery Center offers residential treatment and outpatient rehab services to help people recover from alcohol dependence and addiction. Don’t let alcohol prevent you from living a full life. Talk with our alcohol use disorder specialists at Las Vegas Recovery Center by calling 844.332.2076 today.