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What is Alcohol Abuse?

What is alcohol abuse? Definition of alcohol abuse. Plus detailed info on signs of alcohol abuse and effects of alcohol abuse.

Just as with any drug, people ask, "what is alcohol abuse?" It can be difficult to tell the difference between social drinking, moderate drinking and alcohol abuse, but the alcohol abuse definition comes down to one key point: is drinking causing problems in the person's life?

When people start drinking, alcohol abuse is generally the furthest thing from their minds. Drinking is started recreationally, with friends and is associated with having a good time. This positive view of alcohol can be why it is so easy to slip into alcohol abuse. Often the thoughts of alcohol being a "good time" drug stop people from seeing the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse.

See alcohol abuse facts.

What is Alcohol Abuse? - Alcohol Abuse Definition

The alcohol abuse definition is similar to alcoholism in that in both cases alcohol is causing harm to the drinker's life and those around them. The difference is that those who abuse alcohol, but are not yet alcoholics, typically can put some limitations on their drinking and they have not yet become physically addicted to alcohol. The key to the alcohol abuse definition is not in the amount of alcohol consumed but on how it affects an individual. (See effects of alcohol)

What is Alcohol Abuse? - Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Because the alcohol abuse definition is general, the signs are unique for each person. Some of the signs will be similar to alcoholism but often to a lesser degree. Alcohol abuse is though, by definition, problem drinking. Signs that fit within the alcohol abuse definition include:iii

  • Repeatedly neglecting responsibilities due to drinking or hangover affects
  • Using alcohol in ways that are dangerous, for example, drinking and driving
  • Having repeated legal or financial trouble as a result of drinking
  • Continuing to drink in spite of its negative effects on relationships, work or other priorities
  • Drinking as a way to relax or de-stress
  • Drinking as a way to feel good, or simply not feel bad

What is Alcohol Abuse? - Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Long-term alcohol abuse can affect everything in a person's life from their family, job and finances as well as almost every organ in the body. The most important part in understanding the alcohol abuse definition is determining whether it applies in your life so help for alcohol abuse can be sought as soon as possible.

It is important to understand that while not everyone who abuses alcohol goes on to become an alcoholic, alcohol abuse is one of the biggest risk factors to becoming an alcoholic.

More on Alcohol Abuse

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next: Alcoholism Facts: Alcohol Abuse Facts
~ all alcohol addiction articles
~ all articles on addictions

Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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