Most people are unaware that someone can consume a lot of alcohol every day without becoming an alcoholic. How is that possible? Some people just simply have a high tolerance to the effects of alcohol. It might have something to do with their mindset or the way their body metabolizes the alcohol they drink. Science is not very clear in this area.
To better understand the phenomenon mentioned above, it would be useful to discuss the difference between dependence and addiction. Yes, someone can develop a physical or mental dependence on alcohol without becoming an alcoholic. With that said, there is a very fine line between the two conditions.
A person’s physical dependence on alcohol is dictated by their body’s need for alcohol to ensure the body is able to function as needed. Mental dependence is more of a mindset. It typically occurs when the individual is so obsessed with drinking alcohol that they drive themselves to do so far more than what most people would consider acceptable. So when does dependence turn into alcoholism?
According to the guidelines as set forth by the psychiatric and addiction treatment communities, two things happen when someone crosses the aforementioned fine line between dependence and addiction. First, they will begin to show behaviors that are indicative of addiction. With alcoholism, common addictive behaviors include:
- Always drinking more than planned
- Often drinking alone
- Creating financial problems because of the consumption of too much alcohol
- Taking unnecessary risks like unprotected sex or driving under the influence
- Increasing difficulties with personal relatonships
- Increased inability to handle personal responsibilities like paying bills
- Often drinking to the point of blackout
Second, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms after any prolonged period of abstinence, usually within 24 hours of their last drink. Withdrawal symptoms represent the body’s way of saying abstinence is unacceptable.
When behaviors change and withdrawal symptoms start to occur, dependence becomes an addiction. At this point, we would like to focus more on alcohol dependence.
What if I’m Physically Dependent on Alcohol but Don’t Feel Mentally Dependent?
The idea you can admit to having a physical dependence on alcohol while believing you can mentally do without drinking is interesting. First, you have come to the realization your body needs alcohol. That’s a very important realization. The further idea you are not mentally vested in your drinking would imply you might be a highly functional alcoholic.
By definition, a highly functional alcoholic consumes a lot of alcohol regularly while still being able to maintain the appearance of living a normal life. They drink, they get intoxicated, yet recover quickly enough to do well in their job and relationships. The only possible sign they might be an alcoholic would be the occurrence of withdrawal.
Adding everything together, you would have people believe you are not an alcoholic, your body does crave alcohol, but you don’t feel particularly vested in your drinking from a mental standpoint. Is this possible? Let’s discuss further.
Could Be Denial
Many addiction treatment professionals would tell you it’s quite a stretch to think your body needs alcohol but your mind couldn’t care less. Is it possible you are in denial about the realities behind your drinking problems? It’s far more likely that the reason you drink so much in the first place is that you are trying to avoid dealing with personal issues. If that were true, it would be appropriate to conclude that you do have some level of mental dependence on alcohol. It’s your method of escape.
Lack of Understanding About Addiction
There is another possible way to explain why your body needs alcohol while your mind doesn’t obsess over it. You may be in the early stages of alcoholism. Your physical dependence is building but hasn’t yet reached the point your mindset or behaviors have changed. If this were the case, there will come a time when you mentally vest in drinking out of concern for your physical wellbeing. That would put you right on the fine line of alcoholism.
We hope you find this information useful. What we think you should concentrate on is the fact you already have a physical dependence on alcohol. This would be the right time to get treatment before the disease of alcoholism comes calling. For more information about our addiction treatment service, we want you to contact us at 844-639-8371. Early treatment could spare you personal pain.