Reflections - Addiction Dependence Treatment
The term 'alcohol dependence' has replaced 'alcoholism' as a term in order that individuals do not internalize the idea of cure and disease, but can approach alcohol as a chemical they may depend upon to cope with outside pressures. Alcohol abuse means having unhealthy or dangerous drinking habits, such as drinking every day or drinking too much at a time. Alcohol abuse can harm your relationships, cause you to miss work, and lead to legal problems such as driving while drunk (intoxicated). When you abuse alcohol, you continue to drink even though you know your drinking is causing problems.
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If you continue to abuse alcohol, it can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is also called alcoholism. You are physically or mentally addicted to alcohol. You have a strong need, or craving, to drink. You feel like you must drink just to get by.
You might be dependent on alcohol if you have three or more of the following problems in a year:
- You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
- You need to drink more to get the same effect.
- You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
- You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering from drinking, or you have given up other activities so you can drink.
- You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but haven't been able to.
- You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.
Alcoholism is a long-term (chronic) disease. It's not a weakness or a lack of willpower. Like many other diseases, it has a course that can be predicted, has known symptoms, and is influenced by your genes and your life situation. What are some signs of alcohol abuse or dependence?
Certain behaviors may mean that you're having trouble with alcohol. These include:
- Drinking in the morning, often being drunk for long periods of time, or drinking alone.
- Changing what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think it will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk.
- Feeling guilty after drinking.
- Making excuses for your drinking or doing things to hide your drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores.
- Not remembering what you did while you were drinking (blackouts).
- Worrying that you won't get enough alcohol for an evening or weekend.
Treatments for alcohol dependence can be separated into two groups, those directed towards severely alcohol-dependent people, and those focused for those at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Treatment for alcohol dependence often involves utilizing relapse prevention, support groups, psychotherapy
If you feel you have an alcohol problem, get help. Even if you are successful in other areas of your life, visit a doctor or go to a self-help group. The earlier you get help, the easier it will be to cut back or quit.