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Why Won’t My Son or Daughter Stop Drinking Alcohol on Their Own?

The traditional view of addiction is that it is a sign of weakness, immorality or a flawed character. However, years of accumulated evidence from clinical studies and scientific data prove that this is simply false. Medical experts now see addiction as a progressive disease of the mind that overpowers a person’s willpower. Many factors can contribute to addiction, including a person’s genetics, environment and situational proximity. Many people have inherent risk factors for addiction, so situational factors merely trigger a propensity for addiction. In other words, rather than alcoholism being a question of nature or nurture, addiction is often a result of both.

What Is the Difference between Alcohol Addiction and Dependency?

Addiction may occur in conjunction with or independent of physical dependence. It means someone relies psychologically on a substance to escape from problems, to ease pain or to relieve stress. Many people use alcohol to unwind or have fun, but a person who uses alcohol regularly is probably self-medicating some difficult issues.

On the other hand, dependency on a substance is a physical condition where the body relies on the substance to function normally. Once dependency has occurred, quitting will result in withdrawal symptoms as the body craves the substance to which it has become accustomed. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a sure sign of physical dependence.

Not all addictive drugs produce physical dependence, such as marijuana: this drug can be psychologically addictive, but it produces few if any physical withdrawal symptoms. However, alcohol is a different story. Alcohol dependency usually develops slowly and may take years of abuse to manifest. Unfortunately, when it takes hold it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that make it incredibly difficult to quit. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can cause delirium tremens, or symptoms that may include seizures and terrifying hallucinations.

Again, alcohol dependency usually develops after a prolonged period of drinking, which is most likely to have stemmed from psychological addiction. When psychological addiction and physical dependency combine, it may be next to impossible for even a strong-willed person to quit drinking without professional help.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse, Dependence and Addiction

Alcohol abuse may be merely situational. For instance, many young people abuse alcohol due to situational factors, such as proximity to it or associating with others who drink regularly. Problem drinking is not necessarily alcohol addiction, which is often indicated by behavior such as drinking every day or drinking heavily at home. Additionally, alcohol addiction does not necessarily indicate alcohol dependence. Dependence means you have withdrawal symptoms when you go long enough without a drink.

Alcohol abuse, problem drinking and alcohol addiction can all be treated with counseling. Dependency is a more serious medical condition as detox can be dangerous or even deadly. Rehab, and especially detox, should be medically supervised.

Regardless of the extent of the problem, professional treatment offers the best chance of getting sober. For help finding treatment, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.