Alcohol Dependancy or Alcohol Misuse, Which is it?
The terms alcohol misuse and alcohol dependence are often used interchangeably although there is clear distinction between the two. Both involve the serious misuse of alcohol likely to cause real damage to health and well being. People who misuse alcohol usually manage to carry on their lives with some semblance of normality, once alcohol dependent, alcohol takes priority.
Alcohol misuse refers to a regular pattern of excessive drinking, drinking above safe recommended units. Examples of this include failing to fulfil work commitments, family or social obligations as a result of recurrent drinking consumption; encounters with the law or emergency services arising from excessive alcohol use or regularly combining alcohol with physically hazardous situations, such as driving or operating machinery.
When dependence takes hold, alcohol becomes central in someone’s life, usually resulting in giving up important activities and taking priority over relationships. One of the early signs of dependence is when more alcohol is needed to achieve a desired effect. As dependency becomes more established, more time is spending thinking about alcohol or engaging in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of drinking. As dependency increases, people notice that they get the shakes if they don’t have a drink. And so they simply have to keep drinking to avoid experiencing these withdrawals.
The NHS defines binge drinking as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk”.
People may drink at different speeds or drink different amounts in a session. The definition used by the Office of National Statistics for binge drinking is having over 8 units in a single session for men and over 6 units per women.
What is known is that the risks of short-term harms like accidents or injuries or misjudging risky situations or losing self control, increase between two to five times from drinking five-seven units. This is equivalent to 2-3 pints of beer.