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What is Alcohol Dependence?

You might have heard of many terms to refer to someone who is struggling with alcohol. Everything from alcoholism to substance abuse and binge drinking. These terms can make it difficult and confusing for non-professionals to navigate and seek adequate help for those who need it.


In this article, we’ll dive deep into what’s alcohol dependence and what to do if you or someone you love suffers from it,

What’s Alcohol Dependence?

Being dependent on alcohol is what’s also known as having alcoholism or having an alcohol addiction. The disorder is defined as a chronic medical condition that’s characterized by the occurrence of alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the drinker stops consuming.

In general, mental health professionals often prefer to refer to the condition of alcoholism or alcohol dependence as an alcohol use disorder. 

Alcohol use disorder is the preferred term used to diagnose problematic alcohol consumption in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

That’s because studies have found that the terminology influences how a person with substance abuse sees themselves.

The terms alcoholic, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency tend to stigmatize people who are affected by alcohol use disorder and suffering from alcohol addiction. This could affect their recovery or their willingness to get better.

Signs Someone Is Dependent on Alcohol

Signs of dependence on alcohol include:

  • Not being able to function without alcohol
  • High tolerance to alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Drinking to relieve withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings to drink
  • Not being able to stop at will
  • Irritated if alcohol runs out
  • Worried that there isn’t enough alcohol
  • Hiding alcohol around the house or workplace “just in case”
  • Drinking takes priority over other things

Patterns of Someone Dependent on Alcohol

The effects of suffering from dependence on alcohol vary from person to person.

Those who are alcohol dependent may drink the following way:

  • Drinking larger amounts and for longer periods
  • Everyday
  • From early in the morning
  • After work
  • Without control
  • Not being able to have just one drink
  • Always finished their drink or their bottle

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

When someone dependent on alcohol stops drinking it abruptly, they experience withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and after prolonged use, it becomes accustomed to being around all the time.

Due to alcohol’s depressant properties, your brain works overtime to maintain sharpness. Drinking for a prolonged period of time becomes a habit that keeps the brain active.

A person who stops drinking stays in this heightened state for a longer period of time, which is what causes withdrawal symptoms in alcoholics.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening for alcoholics. The symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the individual

Pharmacotherapy is often used in the management of withdrawal symptoms. Medications like benzodiazepines are usually given to recovering alcoholics during the detox process as a way to help manage their anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs

The following are the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking 
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Delirium tremens
  • Cardiac arrest

How to Detox From Alcohol

If you’re not sure how to detox from alcohol, follow these steps.

  • Seek medical assistance or contact an alcoholism treatment rehab facility that can guide you through the process.
  • Stay hydrated and nourished while you wait to get to the detox facility
  • Get in touch with a friend or family member who can assist you in reaching the detox facility. You shouldn’t drive there on your own.
  • Ensure that you bring any medications you take and inform the medical staff if you have any medical conditions.
  • Call 911 if you are not feeling well

When to Seek Help

Those who suffer from alcohol addiction might not see their behavior as a problem. But withdrawals and dependence on alcohol can be life-threatening.

People who depend on alcohol must seek help.

Outpatient LA provides alcohol detox and rehab facilities that include both inpatient and outpatient alcoholism treatment.

Our rehab can help you no matter what alcoholism treatment option is right for you.

For more information about our alcohol rehab programs, contact Outpatient LA today.

Get Real Help for Addiction Right Now.

Outpatient Los Angeles is available day or night to help you find the best treatment options that meet your personal needs.