Alcohol Abuse

alcohol abuse

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a condition in which a person repeatedly consumes alcohol, despite the negative consequences it has on their life. Alcohol abuse is sometimes called alcoholism. However, there is a bit of a difference between it and abuse. Alcoholism is considered the same as alcohol addiction (not abuse).

The difference between abuse and addiction is that with abuse – the person can limit themselves in some way because they aren’t yet dependent on it. Alcoholism or alcohol dependence, on the other hand, means the person is physically and physiologically dependent on the alcohol. This means that they crave it and experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using.

The good thing about alcohol abuse is that during this stage, it’s much easier to begin treatment rather than down the road – after an addiction has developed.

A) Factors that Can Contribute to Alcohol Abuse

Several factors can contribute to alcohol abuse or addiction. Most people don’t realize that certain things can lead to alcohol abuse. Some of these include: Genes from both sides of their family, how they were raised, the social environment they grew up in, emotional health status, mental health status (any mental illnesses), and a family history of alcohol abuse or addiction.

B) Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

By researching some of the signs and symptoms, it should be relatively easy to figure out if someone has an alcohol abuse disorder. Here are some ways to tell:

  1. If any of these are true:
    • Feeling ashamed or guilty about drinking
    • Lying to people to hide the abuse
    • Frequently drinking more than intended
    • Family and friends are worried about drinking
    • Feeling the need to drink to be calm or relaxed
    • Experiencing blackouts or not remembering what happened while drinking
  2. Symptoms:
    • School, home, or work responsibilities are neglected because of drinking
    • Using alcohol to relax or reduce stress
    • Continuing to drink even though it causes personal relationship problems
    • Legal problems because of drinking
    • Causing physical dangers by drinking, such as drinking and driving

C) Statistics on Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse effects more than just the individual with the abuse problem. It also effects more than just their families. Alcohol abuse affects the economy, as well as the entire country. People aren’t aware of the seriousness of alcohol abuse. Perhaps this statistical information will be helpful in opening the eyes of those who abuse alcohol. These statistics are from the most recent study done on the subject:

  • In 2012, 17 million people in the U.S. suffered from an alcohol abuse disorder (AUD)
  • In 2012, 855,000 children age 12-17 suffered from an AUD
  • Approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur annually, meaning it is the third leading cause of preventable deaths
  • In 2012, 10,322 vehicular deaths were alcohol-related (about 31% of all driving fatalities)
  • Alcohol abuse problems cost the U.S. $223.5 billion in 2006
  • In 2012, 3.3 million – about 5.9% – of deaths worldwide were because of alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol plays a part in more than 200 diseases and injury-related health problems
  • Over 10% of children in the U.S. live with a parent with an alcohol problem
  • 48.2% of cirrhosis deaths in 2009 were alcohol-related
  • In 2009, alcoholic liver disease was the primary cause for about 1 in 3 liver transplants


D) Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Excessive alcohol consumption, even just one time, can take a serious toll on the body. Numerous major organs can obtain damage from alcohol consumption. There are so many side effects of alcohol abuse that it’s nearly impossible to cover them all, but the following are examples of how alcohol can affect the bodies:

  1. Brain:
    • Alters the way it functions
    • Disruptions in the brain cause changes in behavior, the ability to think clearly, and coordination
  2. Heart:
    • Weak and drooping heart muscles, called cardiomyopathy
    • Stroke
    • Irregular heart beat
    • High blood pressure
  3. Pancreas:
    • Causes the pancreas to produce toxins that lead to pancreatitis
  4. Liver:
    • An excess of fat in the liver – known as fatty liver disease – that it wasn’t able to metabolize because of alcohol in the system
    • Fibrosis
    • Alcoholic hepatitis
    • Cirrhosis
  5. Cancers:
    • Mouth
    • Throat
    • Esophagus
    • Breast
    • Liver


For the best chance of a successful recovery, it’s recommended that the user attends inpatient rehabilitation. These are live-in facilities where the patient remains for the duration of their treatment. The recovery steps begin with detoxification – the process of ridding the body of the toxins. Rehab is important, especially with alcohol addiction, because the withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be severe. Therefore, the staff of the rehab center would help with suggestions to deal with the symptoms. Perhaps the most important thing when striving for sobriety is the support and encouragement of loved ones. Support can make all the difference in the world.