Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (Alcohol Use Disorder)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

Quick GuideAlcohol Abuse: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

Alcohol Abuse: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

What is alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse, now included in the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, is a disease. It is characterized by a maladaptive pattern of drinking alcohol that results in negative work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social effects on a person's life. The individual who abuses this substance tends to continue to use it despite such consequences. Effects of alcohol use disorder on families can include increased domestic abuse/domestic violence. The effects that parental alcoholism can have on children can be significantly detrimental in other ways as well. For example, the sons and daughters of alcoholics seem to be at higher risk for experiencing more negative feelings, stress, and alienation as well as aggression. There are a multitude of negative psychological effects of alcohol use disorder, including depression and antisocial behaviors.

Statistics about less severe alcohol use disorder (alcohol abuse) in the Unites States include its afflicting about 10% of women and 20% of men. Other alcohol abuse facts and statistics include the following:

  • Most people who develop severe alcohol use disorder (alcohol dependence/addiction) do so between 18 and 25 years of age.
  • Symptoms tend to alternate between periods of alcohol abuse and abstinence (relapse and remission) over time.
  • The majority of individuals who abuse alcohol never go on to develop severe alcohol use disorder, formerly referred to as alcohol dependence.
  • Alcohol-use statistics by country indicate that among European countries, Mediterranean countries have the highest rate of abstinence and that wine-producing countries tend to have the highest rates of alcohol consumption.
  • In many European countries, beer tends to be the alcoholic drink of choice by teenagers, followed by liquor over wine.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2015

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