Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism Versus Alcohol Abuse

Although regularly abusing alcohol can lead to alcoholism, they are not the same thing. Alcoholism suggests that the individual has an overwhelming physical and psychological need to consume alcohol despite the negative consequences. Alcohol abuse describes the way that an individual chooses to drink alcohol, while they lack dependency on it.  

Causes Of Alcohol Abuse

People choose to abuse alcohol for different reasons. There are certain times when people think that it is more appropriate to drink, and will even use certain circumstances as an excuse to drink. For example, when a person decides to drink excessively on their 21st birthday, it is viewed as perfectly acceptable. Here are a few more reasons that people may choose to drink heavily:

  • Peer pressure
  • Perceived social norm (i.e. college students on campuses where social drinking is prevalent)
  • Easy accessibility of alcohol
  • Cultural norms

 Manifestations Of Alcohol Abuse

For some, alcohol abuse is a fairly regular occurrence, and for others it is very infrequent and sporadic. There are various reasons that a person might choose to drink heavily and there are different manifestations of that decision. Here are some of the most common:

  • Failure at some sort of responsibility (i.e. work, school, relationships)
  • Legal problems (i.e. driving under the influence)
  • Injury while intoxicated
  • Unwanted or unsafe sexual activity
  • Mixing illicit and over-the -counter drugs with alcohol
  • Medical problems (i.e.  insomnia, mood swings)

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is one of the common ways to abuse alcohol. For men, it is defined by drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages and for women it is 4. Binge drinking increases the risk for violent behavior, unlawful behavior, and injury. Many people experience ‘black outs’ when they binge drink because of the influence that alcohol has on the frontal lobe of the brain. When a person blacks out they are severely inebriated and often have no recollection of activities that took place while intoxicated.


It is important to realize that abusing alcohol is dangerous because of the risks of immediate and long term consequences. If someone you know is abusing alcohol regularly, it is worth intervening to prevent dependency on alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so inside the parameters of the law. Never drink more than enough to get intoxicated. Due to the hereditary nature of alcoholism, it is important for everyone to examine their family history to find out if they are more likely to get addicted to alcohol. Individuals that have a history of alcoholism should abstain from alcohol abuse.