Alcoholism is a Widespread Problem

For most people who drink, alcohol is a pleasant accompaniment to social activities. Moderate alcohol use—up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people—is not harmful for most adults. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle or can of either beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.) Nonetheless, a large number of people get into serious trouble because of  their drinking. Currently, nearly 17.6 million adult Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.

Several million more adults engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems. These patterns include binge drinking and heavy drinking on a regular basis. In addition, 53 percent of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem.

The consequences of alcohol misuse are serious—in many cases, life threatening. Heavy drinking can increase the risk for certain cancers, especially those of the liver, esophagus, throat, and larynx (voice box). Heavy drinking can also cause liver cirrhosis, immune system problems, brain damage, and harm to the fetus during pregnancy. In addition, drinking increases the risk of death from automobile crashes as well as recreational and on-the-job injuries. Furthermore, both homicides and suicides are more likely to be committed by persons who have been drinking. In purely economic terms, alcohol-related problems cost society approximately $185 billion per year. In human terms, the costs cannot be calculated. 

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes four symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
  • Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
  • Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to “get high.”

People who are not alcoholic sometimes do not understand why an alcoholic can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. However, alcoholism has little to do with willpower. Alcoholics are in the grip of a powerful “craving,” or uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides their ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water.

Although some people are able to recover from alcoholism without help, the majority of alcoholics need assistance. With treatment and support, many individuals are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.


Many people wonder why some individuals can use alcohol without problems but others cannot. One important reason has to do with genetics. Scientists have found that having an alcoholic family member makes it more likely that if you choose to drink you too may develop alcoholism. Genes, however, are not the whole story. In fact, scientists now believe that certain factors in a person’s environment influence whether a person with a genetic risk for alcoholism ever develops the disease. A person’s risk for developing alcoholism can increase based on the person’s environment, including where and how he or she lives; family, friends, and culture; peer pressure; and even how easy it is to get alcohol.

 alcohol affects
 

Better Your Health

Site Map
What is the Attraction To Alcohol
Alcoholism is a Widespread Problem
The Difference Between Alcohol Dependence And Alcohol Abuse
FAQ's About Alcoholism Pt 1
FAQ's About Alcoholism Pt 2
A Brief Summary Regarding Alcoholism
Alcohol Abuse and the College Campus
The Brain And Alcohol
Health Risks For Women Alcoholics
Holiday Survival Guide For The Alcoholic
How A Child See's Alcoholism
Alcoholism Detoxification Steps
Alcoholism and the Workplace
The Children of Alcoholics
Common Questions About Alcoholism
Tests for Alcohol Use
Do All Alcoholics Need a Rehab Center
The Dangers and Penalties Of Drinking and Driving
The War On Drunk Driving
How To Determine When Someone Needs Professional Help
Some Facts About Alcoholism
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Diet Hints To Assist With Alcoholism Withdrawal
Helping Someone To Overcome Alcoholism
Alcoholism Risk Is Linked to Early Aged Drinking
A Portrait Of An Alcoholic
The Symptoms of Alcoholism
Basic Facts About Alcoholism
Hard Facts About Alcoholism
Cautions Concerning Non Alcoholic Beer
The College Campus And Alcoholism
Dangers of Alcoholism
Alcoholics Anonymous Steps 1-6
Alcoholics Anonymous Steps 6-12
What Causes An Alcoholic Blackout
New Shot to Treat Alcoholism
Alcoholism's Physical Effects
Group Support For Alcoholism
Threats From Alcoholism
The Truth About Alcoholism
Treating The Three Main Issues In Alcoholism
Treatments for Alcoholism
Vitamins and Supplements For The Alcoholic
Recovering From Alcoholism
Help Your Teen Avoid Becoming An Alcoholic
What Is Alcholism
Family Members Drinking Too Much
Explain Alcoholism
Who Are The Alcoholics
Women Fighting The Consequences of Alcoholism
Al Anon Support For The Alcoholic's Family
Health Consequences Of Alcoholism
Medications Used For Treating Alcoholism
Screening Tests For Alcoholism
What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism
What the Bible Says About Alcohol Abuse
How to Stop Drinking Alcohol without AA
The Truth About Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholism - Curable or Just Controllable
The Causes of Alcoholism
So How Much Drinking Really Is Too Much?
Is Alcoholism Hereditary
What Children Need to Know About Alcohol
How to Recognize When Children are Drinking
What You Need to Know about how to Set Up an Intervention for an Alcoholic
How to Quit Drinking Without Gaining Weight