Alcohol has been in use by societies as far back as the dawn of civilization. Fermented plant matter for medicine, religious rituals, nutrition, and enjoyment has been around for 9,000 years, recorded in Mesopotamia, the Indian subcontinent, China, and the Middle East. As we know, alcohol dependence can easily result from regular use, and dependence can lead to addiction and the many consequences of that disease. The first place that will help people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) on their journey to sobriety is an alcohol detox center.
Learn more about how alcohol treatment centers like Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) can help you or a loved one manage alcohol withdrawal, treatment, and recovery. Our staff is ready to answer all your questions and help you achieve lasting wellness. Call today at 844.442.8673 or complete this online form. PAATC can offer guidance, information, and support.
Difference Between Alcohol Dependence and Addiction
Both dependence and addiction begin with tolerance to alcohol. When you are tolerant, your body needs more alcohol to feel the buzz you once could achieve by consuming less.
Dependence usually leads to discomfort when you stop drinking—symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Addiction, on the other hand, not only leads to withdrawal, but it is also characterized by:
- Psychological and physical reliance on the continued availability of alcohol
- Continuation of drinking in spite of demonstrably negative consequences
- Constant or at least regular cravings
- Preoccupation with drink—planning it, acquiring it, prioritizing the time and space to consume it, over all else
Not everyone who consumes alcohol becomes dependent or addicted. How do you know whether you are beginning to experience tolerance, the first sign of dependence? When is alcohol dependence confirmed?
How Does Alcohol Dependence Start?
Heavy drinking is usually the first step toward dependence on alcohol. That’s because the continuous interaction of alcohol in the brain eventually derails the brain’s ability to take care of certain functions, primarily the production of neurotransmitters.
The neurotransmitters that normally create sensations of pleasure, contentment, and euphoria are disrupted by alcohol. You become dependent on alcohol to produce those feelings while intoxicated. There are, of course, other effects besides pleasure, such as:
- Slurred speech
- Loss of inhibition
- Slowed reaction times
For people who drink infrequently or in moderation, these symptoms of intoxication wear off after a while, and the brain goes back to normal. That happens because the alcohol has been broken down in the body, and all remnants are flushed out as waste. But when drinking is heavy and more or less continuous or daily, the changes in the brain become long-term. To arouse the same feelings of euphoria through drink, more alcohol must be consumed, leading to tolerance and dependence.
Eventually, if you do become addicted to alcohol after prolonged chronic use, the only way to correct the effects on the brain is by becoming sober. To do that safely and with a minimum of uncomfortable symptoms, a medically supervised alcohol detox center is the best idea.
Professional Treatment for Alcohol Dependence and Addiction at PAATC
Since alcohol dependence is a stepping stone towards a full-blown alcohol use disorder, any signs that your body has become dependent on alcohol are a reason to seek professional help, starting with an alcohol detox center.
Rather than continuing to drink to avoid the discomfort of alcohol withdrawal, reach out to PAATC to talk about how professional alcohol detox can mitigate your uncomfortable symptoms and cravings as you cleanse your body of alcohol, the first step in recovery.
At PAATC, once you have completed detox, you will have a range of evidence-based treatments and therapies available to you, as well as the psychological support and accountability provided by strong peer groups and the option of a faith-based program. Find out more by filling out this form or calling 844.442.8673.