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Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

What is alcohol abuse and dependence?

Although often used interchangeably, the terms alcohol abuse and dependence are very different. Alcohol abuse is the excessive consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. Alcohol abuse can lead to a loss of self-control that leads to poor decision making and risky behavior. It can also lead to dependence as its tolerance level increases over time. In such cases, alcohol consumption is used as a coping strategy and these symptoms of quitting alcohol are experienced when away from alcohol.

What are the signs of alcohol abuse and dependence?
Signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drink alcohol regularly until drunk
  • Drink alcohol fast

Signs of alcohol dependence include:

  • Worrying/looking forward to when it's time to drink alcohol
  • Drink alcohol alone regularly
  • Behavior of drinking alcohol secretly
  • Arguing about drinking alcohol

Risk factors

Adolescents are more susceptible to peer coercion that influences them to drink alcohol. The reason is, when teenagers the brain is still developing so that the reward center is more often activated by behaviors such as alcohol consumption. No one should be forced to drink alcohol; So, it’s important to have the courage to say no. Some ways to combat peer coercion include:

  • Avoid peers who force you to drink alcohol or force you to do dangerous behavior
  • Suggest other alternatives instead of drinking alcohol or invite your friends to drink non-alcoholic drinks
  • Find other friends who also resist your friend's coercion to drink alcohol
  • Talk to a trusted adult about the problem you are having

Long term consequences

Given that alcohol is a depressant, it can temporarily improve mood and self-confidence. Depressants are substances that alter the arousal of neurons by disrupting the chemical balance in the brain and nervous system, resulting in the feeling of relaxation commonly associated with drinking.
Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include:

  • Increased aggressive behavior
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Sleep and concentration disorders
  • Brain damage

Such consequences can be particularly damaging for those with a history of pre-existing disease.

Developing Healthy Coping Strategies and Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction

While it’s fine to drink alcohol in moderation, dependence on alcohol as a coping strategy can cause problems later. On the other hand, alternative coping strategies can be done by:

  • Reach trusted friends or family members exercise
  • Engage in self-care behavior
  • Building new and healthy social relationships

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