Alcoholism vs Addiction: Why the Fight?
Alcoholism vs Addiction? Is it really a thing? Unfortunately, yes. It is a thing. And anybody who’s ever been to an AA or NA meeting can probably prove it too. They’ve seen the eye rolls; heard the tsks tsks; even felt outright shade. All because someone believes one bad habit is better than another.
We’ve got news for anyone engaged in this non-feud feud: both bad habits might smell a little different, but they stink just the same.
They both can kill you too.
Something to remember while you’re being thrown from your high horse.
Alcoholism vs Addiction
Both alcoholism and drug addiction are the sort of serious mental health disorders that can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. And one most certainly isn’t less bad than the other. Think about it. Both disorders involve the compulsive use of a substance, despite negative consequences. One simply happens to be alcohol, while the other is drugs.
There are however a couple causal differences between alcoholism and drug addiction.
Alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over drinking, and continued use despite negative consequences. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time. If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to a number of serious health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems.
Drug addiction is also a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug use, loss of control over drug use, and continued use despite negative consequences. Drug addiction can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, environment, and personality traits. Like alcoholism, drug addiction can lead to a number of serious health problems, including overdose, addiction, and mental health problems.
The other differences between alcoholism and drug addiction generally mean all the difference in the world. They’re also the reason alcoholics and addicts are treated differently.
The first is obvious: alcohol is a legal substance, while most drugs are illegal. This can make it more difficult for people with drug addiction to access treatment. On the other hand, alcohol is also more widely available than many drugs. This obviously can make it easier for people to start drinking – and much, much more difficult for them to stop.
Then there’s the stigma. Forget heroin chic, let alone jazz junkie cool. In the first place, there really isn’t any more heroin. (Not in the traditional sense anyway.) In the second, those icons were way overrated to begin with. Furthermore, drug addiction continues to carry a stigma that leads to shame and secrecy. It can also stand in the way of treatment.
Alcoholism and Addiction Similarities
Even our pals at Bard know that alcoholism and drug addiction are more alike than not alike. Again, both disorders involve the compulsive use of a substance, despite negative consequences. And both disorders can lead to a number of serious health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems. Then again, there’s the ever present risk of job loss, relationship problems, and financial ruin.
Alcoholism vs Addiction: Treatment
Here too both alcoholism and addiction have many similarities. Neither favors a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. In fact, it’s generally best to tailor treatment to an individual’s needs.
Here are a few effective treatment options:
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): MAT extends well beyond the use of medications such as methadone or buprenorphine. It can include librium, as well as antidepressants. Whatever it takes to help people manage their cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that helps people change their thinking and behavior patterns related to their addiction and/or alcoholism. Some people find this treatment to be so beneficial they continue it throughout their lives.
- 12-step programs: You knew we couldn’t leave without including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Not only do these peer-support groups help people stay sober, but, unfortunately, they also tend to be home of the ridiculous phenom known as alcoholism vs addiction.
The Non-Feud Feud
That’s what makes this so crazy. Not only are alcoholism and addiction related, but they’re virtual siblings. In fact, they often are born into the same being. And there are few things crazier than having your inner addict hate your inner alcoholic. Or vice versa.
The same applies when the addict poo-poo’s the alcoholic. Looking down on someone is never a good look. Looking down on a like mind is an even worse look. It also preempts possibility. After all, when one substance abuser looks down their nose at another, they’re looking down on a potential friend.
Healing Properties believes in allies not enemies. Why? Because an ally has been there and done that. Heck, they may still be there trying to undo all that. The point is, an ally knows your predicament. Truly. Madly. Deeply. And they’re quite likely to be the first to come to your aid. How do we know? Over 20 years of helping men sober up. That’s how. Give us a ring and we’ll be your ally too.