Is Alcohol Dependence the Same as Alcoholic?

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There are many people who enjoy alcoholic drinks. While they are great as part of occasional celebrations, overdoing the consumption of liquor can have grave health consequences in the long run.

When talking about alcohol and the problems it can cause, certain terms are often used interchangeably. Most people see alcohol dependence and alcoholism as the same thing. However, there is a difference between both their meanings and they require distinct alcohol addiction treatment plans.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 3 million deaths occur every year due to harmful usage of alcohol. Both alcoholism and alcohol dependence can result in adverse consequences. Here’s how to differentiate between them.

Alcohol Dependence

It is a chronic illness that makes a person crave alcoholic drinks. Alcohol dependence implies physical dependence on alcohol. It is marked by the body’s tolerance for alcohol and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

There are different degrees of alcohol dependence. Excessive drinking is not an element that is common to all degrees of alcohol dependence. For example, if you feel a desire to drink some wine most nights or have a few drinks after work, just to relax, you may be drinking at a level that can impact your health in the long run.

A person is alcohol-dependent when they start finding it challenging to enjoy themselves without an alcoholic drink. Physical dependence can follow it. It means your body begins to show withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, shakiness, and sweating during the time your blood alcohol level goes down.

Signs of Alcohol Dependence

  1. You’re always stressing about how you can find your next drink.
  2. You experience a compulsive urge to drink. When you begin to drink, you cannot stop.
  3. You feel an urge to drink after you wake up.


Alcoholism refers to a strong urge to drink that is most often uncontrollable. A physical tolerance can develop in those dealing with it. They may also feel withdrawal symptoms once they stop drinking.

It is also called alcohol use disorder, whereby the person has no control over alcohol use. It requires an effective alcohol addiction treatment plan, without which it can turn fatal.

An example of alcoholism is drinking excessively at any event and neglecting your responsibility to reach home properly.

Signs of Alcoholism

  1. Your mind is filled with thoughts of alcohol all the time.
  2. You turn a blind eye to the consequences of your excessive drinking.
  3. You are always in a state of being drunk or drinking.
  4. All your endeavors to stop drinking fail.

Does the Difference Between Alcoholism and Alcohol Dependence Affect Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

As people connect alcohol dependence with alcoholism, it leads to denial and prevents them from getting treatment. There is a stereotype according to which, an alcoholic must start his day with alcohol.

He/she must keep drinking throughout the day. You do not need to necessarily be physically dependent on alcohol to have the problem of alcoholism.

Today, there are various options for those struggling with alcohol-related problems. Behavioral treatments like counseling, caregiver support, and medications are effective alcohol addiction treatment approaches that will help you overcome your reliance on alcohol.

If you are dealing with alcohol dependence or alcoholism, you should definitely seek professional help. The sooner you begin your treatment; the more are your chances of recovering successfully.

Author Bio:
Written by Meghan Hale, a content writer, and editing machine. She is working with Serpwizz. You’ll find me yelling at my dog to stop barking, whether it be at the neighbors or on a long afternoon walk

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