When does alcohol abuse become alcohol dependence?
Many of the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse overlap with the signs and symptoms of alcohol dependency. There is a fine line between the two, but the crossover occurs when the person becomes dependent on alcohol.
An alcoholic is unable to control their drinking, they have built up a tolerance to alcohol which over time requires them to drink larger quantities of alcohol in order to obtain the same effect, and they will usually experience withdrawal symptoms when they don't drink. Someone with a high tolerance may feel the physical effects of alcohol less, but the amount of alcohol in the blood is not any lower. Acquiring a high tolerance overrides your body's natural ways of telling you that you have had too much to drink. Tolerance makes you less aware that you are impaired, and increases the risk that you will make unsafe choices (e.g. driving, having unprotected sex). Even if you are a seasoned drinker, having a high tolerance does not prevent decreases in reaction time and does not increase the amount of alcohol needed to cause death (an approximate BAC of .35 or higher). Increasing tolerance is one of the first steps in the development of addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Employment or school
Family and friends
Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence
Effects on memory and motivation
“A Family History of Alcoholism: Are You at Risk?”
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) publication
If you are among the millions of people in this country who have a parent, grandparent, or other close relative with alcoholism, you may have wondered what your family's history of alcoholism means for you.
- Are problems with alcohol a part of your future?
- Is your risk for becoming an alcoholic greater than for people who do not have a family history of alcoholism?
- If so, what can you do to lower your risk?
This publication provides great insights.http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FamilyHistory/famhist.htm