Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Modified: 17th Jul 2019

Last updated on July 17th, 2019 at 09:38 am

Alcohol’s been one of society’s most popular drug for centuries. Most people can enjoy alcohol in moderation, but for others, alcohol can become a problem.

Some people can find it difficult to stop drinking. Not only is this a danger to themselves, but they also become a danger to wider society.

Read on to learn more about some of the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction.

Alcohol Addiction Statistics

Did you know that despite being legal, alcohol is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs of all time?

Take a look at this drug harm index created by Professor David Nutt. Alcohol is ranked as one of the most harmful drugs, even surpassing drugs like heroin or cocaine.

One of the worst things about alcohol abuse is it harms a lot of people, along with the user. When you drink, you can not only harm yourself, but you could also hurt other people. Drunk people might try to drive and cause a crash. Or they may get into unprovoked physical altercations.

General Stats on Addiction to Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States. In fact, 86.4% of people over the age of 18 claims they’ve tried alcohol at some point.

So if alcohol is so addictive, why can so many people drink it without any problems? There are many factors at play. Exactly what causes alcoholism is still not fully understood.

It’s widely believed that there’s a genetic component involved. Some people are more predisposed than others to becoming alcoholics.

It’s also been discovered that having a genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean you will have a drinking problem. Some people with these genetic features can drink and keep it under control.

However, if a child grows up in a household where people abuse alcohol, you’re more likely to abuse alcohol as an adult.

Alcohol abuse causes a lot of problems. For example, did you know that alcohol abuse cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2012?

Demographics

Despite the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21 or older, underage drinking is still prevalent. Did you know that around 7.7 million people ages 12-20 admit to drinking alcohol in the last month? And that’s only who’s admitted alcohol use.

Underage drinking causes physical damage through alcohol poisoning, but it can also cause a lot of social and developmental problems. When underage people drink, they’re much more likely to engage in disruptive behavior.

Alcohol use is also unsurprisingly very prevalent among college-aged students. Around 58% of full-time college students have consumed alcohol in the last month.

For many alcoholics, college is the point where their alcoholism began. In college, it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of drinking without realizing it’s a problem.

If you have a history of alcohol abuse in your family, you should be careful about drinking in college. Sometimes, alcohol addiction can get so bad alcohol rehab is necessary.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

There are plenty of signs that someone’s drinking has gotten out of control. For most people, a bad hangover is enough to make you swear off drinking for a while. If you feel the urge to keep drinking to get through the hangover, this is a pretty strong indication that you might have a problem.

Alcohol abusers have problems knowing when to stop. If you can’t keep alcohol in your house without drinking it, this is another sign you have a drinking problem. Drinking alone or for no particular reason is also a clear warning sign for alcohol abuse.

If alcohol is causing you problems in your everyday life, you may be an alcohol abuser. For example, has your alcohol use led to you having trouble with the law?

Am I Addicted?

Your drinking might also cause problems with your relationships and work. Maybe you weren’t able to tackle all of your responsibilities because you were drunk.

Just because you don’t have these kinds of trouble doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. Many alcoholics are what is known as “high functioning.” This means they can consistently drink without it affecting their life too much.

These kinds of alcoholics may have a constant “buzz,” but they never get drunk to the point that they lose control. This kind of drinking is still very dangerous because it can do some serious damage to your organs over time.

Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

There are many social dangers when you abuse alcohol. Alcoholism can cause your relationships to break down. Many alcoholics become estranged from their families because of how alcohol makes them behave.

Alcoholism can also have a negative impact on your professional life. In the majority of American workplaces, there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking on the job.

For alcoholics, it’s difficult to adhere to this kind of policy. Inevitably, you’ll be found out and you’ll probably lose your job.

Alcohol abuse can also make you engage in risky behaviors. For instance, when you’re drunk, you might be tempted to engage in illegal activities that you’d never normally do. It’s a lot harder to say no to something like cocaine when you’re drinking.

Alcohol can also make you engage in dangerous sexual behavior. You’ll be much more open to having sex without any forms of protection. This could lead to unwanted pregnancy or STDs.

Reach Out for Help

Do you feel like your drinking is getting out of control? If you suspect you might have a problem, you probably do.

Many alcoholics deceive themselves to the point that they don’t even realize how bad things are. But there is help available. If you’re ready to take the first steps in addressing your problems, contact an alcohol addiction center.

Get in touch with us if you need an addiction intervention specialist.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.