Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse or alcoholism is described in the DSM-IV as a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcohol its negative consequences. There are two types of alcoholics: those who have anti-social and pleasure-seeking tendencies, and those who are anxiety-ridden, able to go without consuming alcohol for long periods of time but are unable to control themselves once they start, creating binge drinking. Differentiating between alcohol abuse and alcoholism requires recognizing that alcohol abuse is when an abuser has faced profound consequences for their actions, while the alcoholic has experienced a sense of withdrawal in the same time period.

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that can result in serious harm to health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. Furthermore, alcohol abuse can lead to failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home, and drinking in dangerous situations, including the operation of a motor vehicle can lead to harming self and others leading to significant legal issues such as DUI. And lastly, alcohol abuse can contribute to acts of aggression and violence, unprotected sexual activity, and financial problems.

Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol dependence which is essentially means that the alcoholic is dependent is psychologically and physiologically dependent on the consumption of alcohol to function without experiencing symptoms of sever withdrawal, such as seizures, nausea, vomiting, headache.

Signs and Symptoms

People with an alcohol use disorder will often complain of difficulty with interpersonal relationships, problems at work or school, and legal problems. Additionally, irritability and insomnia are reported leading to chronic fatigue. Signs of alcohol abuse are often connected to the effect of alcohol on internal organs such as cirrhosis of and failure of the liver, enlargement of the male breasts, jaundice, heptic encephalopathy, and brain damage.

With regard to alcohol abuse and the adolescent brain, alcohol abuse significantly increases the risk of brain damage and other long-lasting alterations to the brain contributing to conduct disorder with lying and defiance, learning disabilities, and other social impairments


The cause of alcohol abuse is complex. Alcohol abuse may be contributed to a variety of factor such as economic, social, and biological considerations. From a psychological perspective, the numbing effects of alcohol can become a coping strategy for those who have experienced a trauma, enabling them to self-medicate or dissociate themselves from the trauma. Unfortunately, however, the altered or intoxicated state of the individual abusing alcohol prevents them from having the consciousness necessary for healing.

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