Alcohol Dependence | Alcohol Dependence Treatment & Symptoms

Alcohol use disorder is the medical term used to describe the condition of alcoholism, associated with problematic drinking behaviors. Alcohol dependence develops when cravings and urges for alcohol become significant enough to impact a person’s quality of life. Once an individual develops a dependency on alcohol, many professionals may diagnose AUD. At this stage of alcohol consumption, it’s critical that a person seeks treatment. There are some major differences between alcohol dependence and tolerance. We’ll review some signs and symptoms below. 

Understanding how alcohol dependency develops is beneficial. This knowledge can help identify early signs of alcohol abuse, helping to minimize the chance of severe alcoholism. It is important to note, that just one or two cravings for alcoholic beverages do not indicate the presence of alcohol dependence. However, if an individual is struggling with persistent cravings, seeking out opportunities to drink, and reports a loss of control over alcohol use, then there may be a severe alcohol dependency present. 

This article is designed to help you better understand the common warning signs of alcohol dependency. If you have questions on available Colorado alcohol treatment, contact AspenRidge Recovery today at 855-281-5588

alcohol dependence

Is Alcohol Dependence the Same as Alcoholism?

The short answer is yes. Alcoholism and having a dependency on continued use are often used synonymously. The term alcoholism is often used in a less formal manner than alcohol use disorder, which is the term used to describe a relapsing disorder associated with alcohol abuse. 

Alcohol dependence is often used in clinical settings as it best describes the process of alcoholism. When an individual develops a strong tolerance and needs to rely on alcohol to operate effectively, then it is determined that the individual is struggling with alcohol dependence and severe alcoholism. There are certain signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence that can help family members and friends understand when problematic drinking morphs into a health or life crisis. 

What is Drug and Alcohol Dependence?

Drug and alcohol dependence usually develops over a long period of time. Dependency on a substance often starts with occasional use. It can develop into binge drinking, heavy use, or other sporadic usage. Over time, the heavy use of alcohol or a drug often turns into alcohol dependency. 

As the frequency of using a drug or alcohol grows, the risk of developing tolerance also grows. Tolerance refers to the need for more of a substance to achieve a euphoric effect from the drug. Once tolerance develops, alcohol or drug dependency often is present.

What are The Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence?

Knowing the common symptoms of alcohol dependence is highly recommended. Developing awareness of both common and severe symptoms of alcohol dependence can help identify if risky or problematic drinking patterns are present. Awareness of yourself or a loved one can prevent further alcohol dependence. Common symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

  • Increased cravings and urges for alcohol.
  • Increase in tolerance of alcohol.
  • Fixation on drinking alcohol.
  • Neglect of personal responsibilities to engage in drinking alcohol.
  • Decreased overall health and feeling lethargic.
  • Lack of pleasure in previously enjoyable activities and hobbies.

Alcohol Dependence Treatment

What Is Considered Alcohol Dependence?

Similarly, to the symptoms of alcohol dependence, becoming aware of the signs of mild and severe alcohol dependence is crucial in helping yourself or a loved one achieve recovery. Below is a list of both mild and severe signs of alcohol dependency that are commonly reported or observed by professionals.

  • Regular invites to social gatherings where alcohol is present.
  • Commonly reports feeling ill or sick.
  • Persistent mood swings or irritability.
  • The smell of alcohol or strange behavior in situations where alcohol is unacceptable.
  • Increased use and larger quantities of alcohol.

More severe signs of alcohol dependence may include the following. If you suspect severe alcohol dependence, it is important to seek professional support to aid in the recovery process.

  • Yellow skin (Jaundice)
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Regularly isolated from friends and family
  • Extreme weight gain or loss
  • Drastic personality changes
  • Increased depression or anxiety

What Happens When You Are Alcohol Dependent?

Knowing if an alcohol dependency is present can be difficult. It is important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of alcohol dependency to help prevent further development of alcohol dependence. It can be helpful to perform personal “check-ins” when consuming alcohol or to keep an activities chart to help gauge your or a loved one’s personal drinking patterns. 

Becoming aware of drinking patterns is a therapeutic approach commonly used to help bring awareness to problem drinking behaviors. If you find there are more times you have engaged in alcohol-related activities than engaging in activities without alcohol, it might be important to seek out further assessment and support from friends, family, or your doctor.

What are the Two Types of Alcohol Dependency?

There are two types of alcohol dependency that can develop. This is commonly used in the field of counseling to help determine the risk factors associated with an individual’s alcohol dependency. Both types are helpful to understand as they can help to determine risk factors and minimize the potential for relapse. Below are the two types of alcohol dependence.

Alcohol Dependence: Type 1

  • Less severe
  • Later onset
  • Tends to drink heavily when challenges occur in life
  • Occurs in both men and women equally
  • Feelings of anxiousness and depression are commonly reported
  • Drinking helps reduce anxiety

Alcohol Dependence: Type 2

  • More severe
  • More genetic factors are present (e.g., family history)
  • Earlier onset. Often occurs before the age of 25
  • More aggressive and impulsive behaviors are reported
  • Other drug use is often reported

A person’s risk for developing AUD depends, in part, on how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol. Alcohol misuse, which includes binge drinking and heavy alcohol use, over time increases the risk of AUD.

Alcohol Dependence Symptoms

Alcohol Dependence Treatment

There are several options available for alcohol or drug dependence. Methods for rehabilitation include a wide variety of treatment options. They can range from community support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to in-patient hospitalization services. It is important to know the severity of alcohol dependence when determining the proper treatment option. Alcohol recovery is an ongoing process and with a tailored approach, individuals can work toward long-term recovery. 

Less severe dependency may not require hospitalization, however severe dependence does require hospitalization and professional support to help recover safely. Common treatments for mild to moderate alcohol dependence may include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Outpatient medication management (E.g., Naltrexone, Disulfiram)
  • Outpatient psychotherapy
  • Outpatient group psychotherapy
  • Sponsorship

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment options for severe alcohol dependence are more intense than mild to moderate dependency. This is because of the risk of physical and emotional harm when discontinuing alcohol. Severe dependency requires help from trained professionals and almost always requires some form of hospitalization. Common treatment for severe alcohol dependence include:

  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • In-patient rehabilitation programs
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Medication management (e.g., Suboxone, Methadone)

Alcohol treatment Denver provides families with options to address concerning drinking habits or alcoholism in general. 

How Can AspenRidge Help?

If you suspect you or a loved one may be struggling with mild, moderate, or severe alcohol dependence, you are encouraged to reach out to AspenRidge Recovery Centers. Our Colorado alcohol rehabilitation programs seek to address alcohol dependence, as well as underlying mental health concerns that may prevent long-term recovery. AspenRidge offers numerous online resources to help guide you through the process of rehabilitation. 

AspenRidge provides compassionate guidance for the next steps in the recovery process. For more information on our provided programs in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins, contact us directly at 855-281-5588