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Alcohol Abuse vs Alcohol Dependence

  • anonymous Asks ...

    Can you recommend a good self help book for someone who wants to work on what is I guess called alcohol abuse but not alcoholism? I want to try to fix things on my own if I can but so far I am not doing very well at reducing my intake.

  • Dr. James Strawbridge Says ...
    Dr. James Strawbridge

    There are many books to read on this subject. My offering is to determine whether you are an abuser of alcohol or have you become dependent:

    Alcohol Abuse Screening Questions

    A yes answer to one or more of the following during the past 12 months indicates alcohol abuse.

    1. Have you, more than once, driven a vehicle while you were drinking, or after having had too much to drink? ____
    2. Have you gotten into situation while drinking, or after drinking, that increased your chances of getting hurt – like swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or near heavy traffic?_____
    3. Have you continued to drink even though you knew it was causing you trouble with your family or friends? ____
    4. Have you gotten into physical fights while drinking, or right after drinking? _____
    5. Have you gotten arrested, been held at a police station, or had any other legal problems because of  your drinking?____

    When alcohol abuse progresses to alcohol dependence, the drinker loses control of the amount they drink and cannot stop using alcohol despite the severe physical and psychological consequences of excessive drinking. 

    *Alcohol Dependence Screening Questions

    A yes answer to three or more of the following during the past 12 months indicated dependence.

    1. Have you had times when you ended up drinking more than you meant to, or kept on drinking for longer than you intended?_____
    2. Have you, more than once, wanted to, or tried to stop or cut down on your drinking but found you could not?____
    3. Have you found that you have to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want, or that your usual number of drinks has much less effect on you than it once did?____
    4. When the effects of alcohol are wearing off, have you had trouble sleeping, or experienced physical symptoms such as shaking, feeling nervous, nauseous, restless, sweating or rapid heartbeat? Have you sensed things that aren't really there, felt bugs crawling on your skin, or had seizures? ____
    5. Have you taken a drink or used any drug or medicine (over-the-counter pain relievers) to avoid having bad after-effects of drinking, or to get over an after-effect of alcohol use, or hangover? ____
    6. Have you continued to drink even though you knew it was making you feel depressed or anxious, causing a health problem or making one worse, or has caused a blackout? ____
    7. Have you had a period when you spent a lot of time drinking, being sick, or getting over the negative after-effects of drinking? ____
    8. In order to drink, have you given up, or cut down on activities that were important to you, interesting or pleasurable? ____

    *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.

    *Adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders-IVTR and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


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