Alcohol Abuse Or Alcoholism, Are You Crossing The Line?

By: Bill Urell

Alcohol abuse can be a tricky term to use, considering that 'abuse' can have different meanings to different people. However, it is often understood as referring to the excessive use of alcohol, and causing problems or negative consequences. While it may not automatically mean addiction to alcohol, alcohol abuse remains as one of the topmost public health concerns facing our society today and is in fact, the most common substance that often causes chemical dependency.

Is it alcohol abuse or alcoholism?

Can you have an alcohol problem is still not be labeled as an alcoholic? Some experts say yes, alcohol abuse can occur without a person actually becoming an alcoholic. In alcohol abuse, the intake of alcohol can occur often and in big quantities but may not often result to alcohol dependency.

Alcoholism, on the other hand, is characterized by physical and psychological dependence, the lack of control over the frequency and amount of drinking, along with the strong craving to drink. Alcoholism is also marked with tolerance, a state where the amount of alcohol needed by the body to get the feeling of 'high' continually increases. Alcoholism is also chronic and may exhibit certain withdrawal symptoms.

Can alcohol abuse be inherited?

There are certain research studies that show the tendency of alcoholism or alcohol abuse to occur in families. It seems that a gene exists that predisposes an individual toward addiction to substances such as alcohol. However, this is not always the case. While certain genes may be to blame for alcohol abuse, lifestyle and the environment are also strong contributing factors.

Is there a specific group of people who are more likely to develop alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse does not depend on sex, race or nationality. However, certain generalities exist. More men, for example, have alcohol problems than women. There is also a higher incidence of alcohol abuse among people between 18 to 29 years old compared to people 60 years old and older.

Young people who start drinking alcohol earlier, say, at 13 or 14 years old, are more likely to develop alcohol problems when they get older, compared to people who start drinking when they are already adults.

Is there such thing as safe drinking?

Alcohol isn't all bad, provided it is taken in moderate amounts. By moderate, we mean 1 to 2 drinks a day for men and less for women and people who are older. This type of alcohol drinking is possible if you do not have the proclivity toward addiction.

People taking medication or have certain diseases, for example, are advised to stay away from alcoholic drinks. For informational purposes one serving of alcoholic drink should consist of:

1.5 oz. of 80-proof drinks (few people measure with tis accuracy)
5.0 oz of wine
12 oz. of beer, wine coolers and mixed spirits

Is there a cure for alcoholism and alcohol abuse?

There is no magic pill, drug, cream or ointment that will cure alcohol abuse. However, it can be treated, although the efficacy of treatments is highly dependent upon an individual's willingness to avoid or control alcohol intake and the frequency of exposure to circumstances that lead to alcohol use.

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Pick up your Free Recovery Rolodex, Over 97 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in addiction recovery.The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug addictiontreatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Tell your story! Visit:

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