Alcohol Dependence vs Alcohol Abuse: Difference and Comparison

Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse are two major medical disorders associated with a person’s habit of consuming alcohol frequently. These are considered majorly destructive as they impact the person in almost all possible dimensions.

It is crucial to mark a clear distinction between these two so that two circulate awareness as a measure of curbing them. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Alcohol dependence involves a physical reliance on alcohol, while alcohol abuse involves a pattern of harmful drinking behavior.
  2. Individuals with alcohol dependence experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, whereas those with alcohol abuse may not.
  3. Alcohol dependence leads to a higher tolerance for alcohol than alcohol abuse, requiring more alcohol to achieve the desired effect.

Alcohol Dependence vs Alcohol Abuse 

Alcohol dependence is a chronic and severe form of alcohol use disorder. It is characterized by a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, with withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that leads to negative consequences but does not necessarily involve physical dependence.

Alcohol Dependence vs Alcohol Abuse

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Alcohol Dependence is both a medical and psychological condition and refers to a person who happens to be completely submerged in the habit of drinking alcohol.

A person is said to be dependent when he finds it almost impossible to leave such a habit and guides his life in such misery. But on the other hand, alcohol abuse is a less dangerous trait of any person and shows the tendency of that person to incline towards the use of alcohol to a more significant extent.

However, this situation is easily controllable compared to the previous one, and it is also the first stage of alcoholism in any given individual. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Alcohol Dependence Alcohol Abuse 
Meaning  By resorting to specific remedies, the use of substances can easily be avoided. A syndrome that defines a person who is inclined towards the consumption of alcoholic substances. 
Gravity  It is a very grave syndrome. The gravity of this syndrome is comparatively less. 
Possibility of giving up It is very hard for the affected person to leave the use of such substances. The affected person is in a very severe condition and it becomes very difficult for him to get out of the situation. 
Symptoms  The affected person is in a very severe condition, and it becomes tough for him to get out of the situation. The affected person is likely to consume more alcohol than a usual person.
Treatment  It requires medical and psychological attention to get away with this syndrome. A change in habit can cure this syndrome. 

What is Alcohol Dependence? 

Alcohol dependence is a term that denotes a very grave and complex situation of alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, this situation is prevalent in many countries, and many people suffer from this particular situation or disease.  

The situation is said to be the last stage of alcoholism and represents a person going through the most severe type of alcohol dependency possible.

A very common symptom of this particular situation is the psychological and mental aspect of the affected person and his inability to leave the use of such substances quickly. Therefore, apart from some medical drugs, specific psychological remedies are also used to suppress the situation in many people as the impact of this situation extends to a person’s psyche.

A prevalent symptom during the diagnosis of this syndrome is that the affected person finds it very hard to leave the continuous consumption of alcohol even after knowing all the negative repercussions. 


What is Alcohol Abuse? 

On a completely different note, the term alcohol abuse largely deviates from the term alcohol dependence; however, in terms of mental disorders bot,h have been kept in a similar category.

A person is set to go through alcohol abuse when he consumes alcohol more than he should. This situation is very dynamic, and the person affected can be a consumer of alcohol either regularly or occasionally.

However, unlike the previous syndrome, this situation does not make it very hard for the person to live up to the alcohol. By resorting to specific self-help remedies, consumption can easily be decreased to a lower limit.  

A prevalent symptom found in people going through alcohol abuse is that they find hardships during their day-to-day life because of the overconsumption of alcohol, and such difficulties might be seen during their friendship relationships and at work.

In the journey of medication, the most significant tool of the person going through alcohol abuse is his determination. It will, and if the person is determined enough, he can quickly resolve his situation without taking the help of heavy medications. 

alcohol abuse

Main Differences Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse 

  1. Alcohol Dependence refers to a condition of absolute dependency of a person over alcohol. On the other hand, Alcohol Abuse is just a situation in which a person more alcohol than usual. 
  2. Alcohol Dependence is a very grave syndrome, while on the other hand, Alcohol Abuse is comparatively less grave. 
  3. Alcohol Dependence makes it very hard for the affected person to give up alcohol, while on the other hand, Alcohol Abuse can be avoided by certain remedies. 
  4. Alcohol Dependence has psychological and medical symptoms, while on the other hand, Alcohol Abuse can be detected in a person who consumes more alcohol than needed. 
  5. Alcohol Dependence is the last stage of alcoholism, while on the other hand, Alcohol Abuse is the beginning stage of alcoholism. 
Difference Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse



Last Updated : 06 July, 2023

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