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Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Understanding what alcohol addiction is and exactly how it has an effect on you emotionally, physically. Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) and alcohol abuse are two different forms of problem drinking.

• Alcoholism is when you have signs of physical addiction to alcohol and continues to drink, despite problems with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or job responsibilities. Alcohol may control your life and relationships.

• Alcohol abuse is when your drinking leads to problems, but not physical addiction.

There is no known cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. For most people, drinking is a social opportunity or an opportunity to relax. If you find that you are drinking alone, it means that you are no longer drinking to have a good time with your friends.

Completely stopping the use of alcohol is the ideal goal of treatment. It is difficult for many people with alcoholism completely stopping and avoiding alcohol. There will be times when it is difficult to avoid drinking for as long as possible.

Withdrawal from alcohol is best done in a controlled, supervised setting. Complications from withdrawal can be life threatening.

Stopping drinking (and going through withdrawal) is just the first step in the process of giving up – it takes time to become dependent on alcohol and time to give up. Attending counseling and/or using other supports are very important to help reduce the likelihood of a relapse back to drinking – they increase the chance of success.

In addition there are a number of medications available that may help.

It is important that the patient has a living situation that supports their need to avoid alcohol. Some programs offer housing options for people with alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
Alcohol recovery is a process—one that often involves setbacks. Don’t give up if you relapse or slip. A drinking relapse doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’ll never be able to reach your goal. Each drinking relapse is an opportunity to learn and recommit to sobriety, so you’ll be less likely to relapse in the future.

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