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Alcohol Abuse – Confusing Levels of Dependence

Alcohol abuse is a huge problem in America and around the world and the economic costs of it is staggering.

In America and other parts of the world, alcohol abuse is a major health problem. The negative effects of misusing alcohol include:

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Family
  • Health
  • Career
  • Psychological
  • Public safety

Forty-four percent of the adult U.S. population (aged 18 and over) are currently alcohol drinkers who have consumed at least 12 drinks in the preceding year.

Although most people who drink do so safely, those who consume alcohol heavily produce an impact that ripples outward to encompass their families, friends, and communities.

Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the latest version of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, alcoholism is now referred to as “Alcohol Use Disorder”. This may have been done to try and alleviate some of the confusion around the various levels of drinking alcohol.

Formerly, there were several different types of abusing alcohol, such as “heavy drinking,” “problem drinking,” “alcohol abuser,” functioning alcoholic” and others.

Causes of Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism often seems to run in families, and we may hear about scientific studies of an “alcoholism gene.” Genetics certainly influence the likelihood of developing alcoholism.

There has been a lot of research confirming the connection between alcohol use disorders in the family. If you have a parent with alcohol use disorder, you are certainly at a higher risk for developing alcohol problems.

The other most likely cause is related to environmental issues.

Here are some other possible causes of alcohol abuse:

  • Young adults under peer pressure
  • Having a mental health condition such as depression
  • Easy access to liquor, such as those who work in bars or restaurants
  • A regular pattern of relationship problems
  • Highly stressful lifestyle

Signs and Symptoms of Abusing Alcohol

There are certain things to indicate whether someone has or soon will have an alcohol use disorder.

List of Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms

  • Continue to drink, despite the negative consequences it causes
  • Quitting activities you formerly enjoyed
  • Increased risk taking behavior while drinking
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms after a person stops drinking
  • Drinking more than planned
  • Being unsuccessful when attempting to cut down or stop drinking
  • Increased amount of time spent drinking and recovering from it
  • Craving and or strong urges to drink
  • Missing work or school and poor performance because of drinking

Sobering Facts About Alcohol

Forty-four percent of the adult U.S. population (aged 18 and over) are current alcohol drinkers who have consumed at least 12 drinks in the preceding year.

Although most people who drink do so in a responsible manner, the minority who consume alcohol heavily produce an impact that ripples outward to negatively impact their families, friends, and communities.

The most recent estimate of the overall economic cost of alcohol abuse was $224 billion.

  • Approximately 14 million Americans – 7.4 percent of the population – meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism
  • More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who has or has had a problem with alcohol addiction
  • Approximately one in four children younger than 18 years old in the United States is exposed to alcohol dependence in the family
  • Among people ages 21 to 22, 85 percent of men and 76 percent of women have used alcohol within the last 30 days
  • 55 percent of men ages 21 to 22, and 33 percent of women ages 19 to 20 drank five or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks
  • People ages 18 to 29 have the highest rates of past-year alcohol dependence

Underage Alcohol Use Statistics

By age 15, more than 50 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.

By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.

10.4 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

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