Alcohol is everywhere. On billboards, television adverts, every restaurant, bar, supermarket etc. It is available 24 hours a day. I think that most people understand what it means to be an alcoholic however amongst many I know, and I can only imagine many others, there seems to be confusion as to what is meant by alcohol dependence. When this ‘label’ is used it often conjures up images of an individual highly intoxicated unable to function in any coherent manor however this isn’t the case. It can be difficult to define alcohol dependence and it is often described slightly differently depending on where you look. It can be argued that someone who feels, perhaps unknowingly, that alcohol is a prominent part of their life is alcohol dependent. For instance someone who is unable to go out with friends and socialise without having a drink, someone who has a glass of wine every night or someone who always stops for a drink at a pub after work every evening may be alcohol dependent. This type of dependence is predominantly a psychological one and drinking at this level is likely to cause long term damage and health implications, however this often doesn’t become apparent for a vast period of time. Many individuals who perhaps have a glass of wine or two every evening have rich and healthy diets, a positive lifestyle, good general health and a warm home getting enough sleep and exercise etc. All of this makes a difference as to the effect that a glass of wine would have upon the individual in comparison with someone who drinks at the same level but has no access to healthcare, a poor diet, inadequate living conditions etc.
There aren’t a great deal of statistics, which of course should be taken with a pinch of salt, surrounding alcohol dependence as of course it is rather difficult to measure and a great deal of people are unaware that their drinking habits could be defined as ‘alcohol dependent.’ However there are some statistics surrounding the likelihood of dependence running in families and there appears to be a positive relationship in that if a parent is alcohol dependent their child if four times more likely to develop a dependence however it is important to note that this is highly influenced by the nature ‘v’ nurture debate and there are a great deal of outside factors which influence this.