Alcohol abuse is the desire for alcohol even when there are alcohol-related work, legal, health, and family problems. Alcohol abuse can progress to alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Alcoholism is a condition in which a person becomes physically dependent on the effects of alcohol and drinks to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Factors that contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism include:

  • Genes
  • Brain chemicals that may be different
  • Social pressure
  • Emotional stress
  • Pain
  • Depression and other mental health problems
  • Problem drinking behaviors learned from family and friends

It is estimated that nearly 17.6 million people in the United States abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. More men than women are alcohol dependent or have alcohol problems. Alcohol problems are highest among young adults, age 18 to 29, and lowest among adults age 65 and older.

Risks Associated With Alcoholism

Organs That Can Be Damaged by Alcoholism

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Alcoholism can increase your risk of the following: