Alcohol Abuse Versus Alcohol Dependency: What’s The Difference?

Alcohol abuse is the misuse or improper use of alcohol and alcohol-containing drinks, which could lead to temporary impairment of physical and psychological bodily functions.

Key Differences

Alcohol abuse is differentiated from alcohol dependency (alcoholism) in such a way that alcoholism includes a strong craving for alcoholic drinks. Alcohol abuse is usually caused by social issues such as marital and relationship problems, inability to meet one’s responsibilities at school or work, or some form of depression.


Although alcohol abuse is not a severe as alcohol dependency, it can still lead to serious physical and social issues just like alcoholism. Several cases of drunk-driving and car crashes are attributed to alcohol abuse. Pregnant women are also advised against drinking because alcohol can affect the development of their child. Frequent alcohol abuse, just like alcoholism, can also lead to serious liver and kidney problems. This is because drugs and substances that are foreign to the body have to undergo some chemical reactions in the liver prior to their excretion from the body. Excess alcohol in the body can overload the liver’s functions and eventually lead to liver failure.


There are also drugs that have dangerous interactions with alcohol. When taking these drugs, it is important to refrain from drinking alcohol.

Some of these drugs are antihistamines (usually prescribed for allergic reactions), aspirin (for fever and mild pains), diazepam (popularly known as Valium, for anxiety and tension, muscular spasms and convulsions), insulin (for diabetics), paracetamol (widely used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also used for pains) and rifampicin (an antiviral drug commonly used against tuberculosis).

Because of the severe implications of alcohol abuse, it also has to be treated the same way as alcoholism.

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