Differences Between Alcohol Dependence and Addiction

The Major Differences Between Alcohol Dependence and Addiction

You see, in the world of addiction treatment, dependence and addiction are two different entities. In fact, both terms are often used interchangeably. So much so that a good number of people often mistake one for the other.

As the leading provider of alcohol addiction treatment services in Vancouver, it is important for us to help you with this clarification. Although both situations are unpalatable, it is important to know that they come with different sets of symptoms and accompanying behaviours.

In this blog, we will take a detailed look at alcohol addiction as well as dependence. More importantly, we will help you distinguish the differences between both sets of alcohol abuse related issues. But first, let’s start with the definition of some important terms. 

Alcohol Dependence and Addiction: Definition

Alcohol Dependence and Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a primary condition that is used to describe the inability to stop taking alcohol despite the obvious negative consequences. Typically, this condition comes with symptoms such as uncontrollable alcohol cravings and exceeding already set limits. Additionally, alcohol addiction comes with an inability to stop despite obvious physical, social and psychological consequences.

Alcohol addiction treatment would be easier if it stops there. However, withdrawal and tolerance are companions of alcohol addiction. Basically, this means that the affected individual will need more and more quantities of alcohol to get the same effect as before. In the same vein, you may start to experience mild withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink.

What is alcohol dependence?

On the other hand, alcohol dependence is the complete physical dependence on alcohol for survival. For someone who is alcohol dependent, a drink becomes as important as water. As a result, this alcohol addiction treatment issue comes with severe withdrawal problems.

Most of the time, the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol dependence include anxiety, shakiness, seizure as well as delirium tremens. In very bad cases, these symptoms can persist for a number of weeks. Rapid heartbeat, confusion and fever may also be an issue that alcohol-dependent people have to deal with. 

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Alcohol Abuse: Addiction vs. Dependence

It is important that you understand the differences between alcohol addiction and dependence. This is the only way you will be able to get the best alcohol addiction treatment services. 

For starters, you should know that alcohol dependence is the more severe of the two addiction-related issues. The next thing you should know is that alcohol addiction can occur without dependence. In most cases, alcohol addiction is a psychological issue that has to be handled by expert treatment services. In this case, the body doesn’t actually need alcohol. However, due to a number of psychological issues, the brain may be convinced otherwise. This is the reason why an alcohol addict will stop at nothing to get a drink.

On the other hand, alcohol dependence can occur without addiction. If you start developing tolerance to alcohol, this means body dependence is in its initial stages. Additionally, dependence can start without any form of uncontrollable cravings. If your body starts to show the classic symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, you may be struggling with dependence. 

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction versus Dependence?

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol dependence and addiction come with different symptoms. Some of these symptoms apply to both addiction issues while others are distinct. Typically, the best addiction treatment services in Vancouver can help you differentiate between dependence and addiction. 

However, it often helps if you can give yourself or a loved one an accurate diagnosis. This way, you will be able to accurately determine the next step in the addiction treatment process.

Below are the top symptoms of alcohol addiction: 

  • Drinking in secrecy or alone
  • Feeling like you have a hangover without drinking 
  • An inability to stop drinking until the body is empty 
  • Extreme mood swings and signs of irritability 
  • Choosing to drink instead of fulfilling certain responsibilities and obligations 
  • Changes in appearance and not in a good way 
  • Finding excuses to drink 
  • Drinking despite obvious negative physical and social consequences 
  • Isolation from friends and loved ones 

Alcohol dependence is a different bag of cards. As mentioned earlier, it comes with feelings of tolerance and withdrawal. However, there’s more. If you don’t feel “complete” without a drink in hand, or you find yourself drinking at the oddest hours, then you may be alcohol dependent. Other symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

  • Inability to think of anything but alcohol 
  • Drinking longer than you planned to 
  • Failed attempts to stop drinking alcohol 
  • Withdrawal symptoms after an alcohol buzz wears off 
  • The bulk of your time is spent drinking or recovering from alcohol 
  • Needing to drink way more than you used to before getting drunk 
  • Drinking even though it is leading to relationship, family, work and school-related issues 
  • Quitting activities that you used to cherish in favour of alcohol 
  • Finding yourself in dangerous situations due to alcohol. This includes drunk driving and questionable stunts 
  • Drinking despite repeated blackouts, depression, health issues and anxiety 

When To Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment Services

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Services

Most people live in denial concerning their need for alcohol addiction treatment services. For this class of people, they don’t make a move to get professional addiction treatment until the condition worsens. Generally, there is no yardstick that can be used to determine a need for alcohol addiction treatment. However, there are symptoms that can be an indicator.

Most of these symptoms are early indicators of withdrawal. As a result, it is recommended that you don’t attempt to take care of these symptoms yourself.  Instead, you should check yourself or loved ones into an addiction treatment centre. They have the resources, experiences and tools to help manage the situation effectively.

If you feel like you have an alcohol abuse problem, the following symptoms are an indication that you need expert treatment.

  • Constant fatigue 
  • Nausea 
  • Anxiety 
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache 
  • Sweating 
  • Jumpiness
  • Depression 
  • Racing heart
  • Serious loss of appetite 
  • Severe confusion 

Dependence or Addiction: Get Help ASAP

Over the course of this article, we have adequately outlined the differences between alcohol dependence and addiction. More importantly, we have also explained the symptoms of each alcohol abuse issue.

From the information above, it is easy to see that early treatment is required to ensure a complete recovery from either condition. Here at Addiction Healing Centre, we have the expertise and tools to help you with alcohol addiction recovery. Speak to any of our friendly addiction treatment experts near you. Call Inspire Change Addiction Rehab in Vancouver for addiction treatment programs. Call 888 508 9802 today!

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