Difference Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse (With Table)

Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse are conditions that require professional treatment. The former is also known as alcoholism while the latter is the mild use of alcohol. They both differ in their issues and types. These conditions are categorized under Alcohol Use disorder.

Alcohol Dependence vs Alcohol Abuse

The main difference between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse is that Alcohol Dependence is a severe stage of alcoholism. On the other hand, Alcohol Abuse can be the mild stage of alcoholism depending on the past drinking pattern of an individual.

Alcohol Dependence is characterized by the inability to control the intake of alcohol. This means a condition when a person is not able to control his drinking and it is harmful to them. This type of condition requires immediate consultation with the doctor.

Alcohol Abuse is a condition when a person drinks too much alcohol in short intervals. This affects the social and personal life of an individual and can be an early sign of alcoholism. This is why the individual should consult a medical professional immediately.

Comparison Table Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse

Parameters of ComparisonAlcohol DependenceAlcohol Abuse
DefinitionAlcohol Dependency is a serious condition when a person is unable to quit drinkingAlcohol Abuse is a condition where individuals have a hard time in touch with alcohol
SymptomsThe person suffering will suffer to get out of the situationThe person will drink more alcohol than an average person
Condition’s gravityAlcohol Dependence is a serious conditionAlcohol Abuse is a relatively less serious condition
Giving up possibilityIt is extremely difficult for a person to give up in this conditionIt can be given up by changes in the habits of an individual
CureImmediate medical consultationCan be dealt with through habitual change but sometimes require medical consultation.

What is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependency is a serious condition of alcoholism wherein a person is unable to quit his drinking practice. This is a serious condition as the person suffers both mentally and physically. Therefore this type of severe condition requires proper medical care and treatment.

Alcoholism is hard to give up and a person has to give his complete efforts. This is why it is regarded as the last stage of alcoholism. This type of condition is present in many nations and a vast number of individuals with this condition can be found.

One of the major symptoms of this disease or condition is the mental effect it has on a person. The individual suffering from this condition has a tough time quitting alcohol and continuing a normal lifestyle. Different types of medical drugs are prescribed for this severe condition.

Supports groups are also organized for people suffering from this condition. Which is a group of people who are similarly suffering from this disease, trying to help each other out. This provides a support system for individuals who are having a difficult time coping with this disease.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol Abuse can be defined as the comparatively less severe stage of alcoholism. In this condition, one faces a difficult time whenever they are in contact with alcohol. It can also be described as one of the early stages of alcoholism or alcohol dependency.

An individual suffering from alcohol abuse is can lead a better life without alcohol. This means that their lives become difficult only in the presence of alcohol. Once they start drinking it becomes extremely hard for them to control the intake. Which makes them drink more than an average person.

Alcohol Abuse is also extremely difficult to control. However, it can be reduced and even treated with the help of habitual change. This implies by changing your habits you can significantly reduce the amount of alcohol consumption and its usage.

Alcohol Abuse is can also be treated with strong will and determination. If the person prepares himself not to stop drinking and control himself in the vicinity of control, then he can prevent himself from transforming into an alcoholic. Therefore, this condition can be treated by the behavioral pattern of the person.

Main Differences Between Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Abuse

  1. Alcohol Dependency is a much more severe condition whereas Alcohol Abuse is a comparatively less severe condition.
  2. Alcohol Dependency requires medical treatment or consultation whereas in some cases Alcohol Abuse can be treated with a strong will and habitual determination.
  3. Alcohol Dependency involves the inability of a person to alcohol while Alcohol Abuse involves the constant difficulty when in contact with alcohol.
  4. Alcohol Dependency is the last stage of Alcoholism whereas Alcohol Abuse is not the last stage of alcoholism
  5. Alcohol Dependency takes a mental and physical toll on a person’s life whereas Alcohol Abuse makes an individual’s life difficult when in the presence of alcohol.


Both of these conditions are related to alcoholism and alcohol is their root cause. However one deals with the overall impact while the latter with its excessive. Alcohol dependency is a serious issue of Alcohol-related disorder while Alcohol Abuse is a relatively less severe issue of Alcohol-related disorder.

The cure for these conditions lies in the determination and will of a person. Even though it becomes quite hard for a person in the last stage of alcoholism. One can try to make a habitual change in his lifestyle to bring a difference in their life and pattern of living.

Every year millions of individuals around the globe suffer from these diseases and try to recover from them. Some choose group therapy while some prefer individual therapy as the way to cope with these conditions. Therefore, these are conditions that can impact the lives of people drastically.

Many organizations have come forward to help people suffering from alcohol dependency or alcohol abuse. The efforts of such organizations are focused on providing medical assistance and therapy to individuals. Through this, they are impacting the lives of people suffering from these severe conditions.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435603002543
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03730.x