Alcohol abuse is an unhealthy pattern of alcohol use in which the abuser drinks alcohol in an amount, frequency, and method that can turn self-destructive and hurt other people.
Alcohol abuse can spiral into an addiction or dependency, but it does not always do so. An abuser is a person who engages in high-risk, dangerous, and typically unsafe behaviors. Abuse can become an addiction when the user physically or mentally depends on the substance.
Alcohol addiction facts and statistics reveal an American epidemic. In 2010, there were 1.4 million arrests for driving under the influence, per the U.S. Bureau of Transportation. In 2013, about 25 percent of people age 18 and older reported binge drinking in the previous month. About seven percent reported that they’d engaged in heavy drinking (defined as “drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of five or more days in the past 30 days).
Alcoholism is another term for alcohol dependency, and it is widely considered by the medical community as a chronic disease that progresses and can be fatal.
Alcohol addiction facts and statistics reveal that many factors influence the brain of people who suffer from alcohol abuse and addiction. These factors include the amount that a person typically drinks in one sitting and a family history of alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse and addiction can produce memory impairment, even after just a few drinks. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol interferes with one’s ability to form new long-term memories and, as the amount of alcohol consumed increases, so does the extent of the memory deficiencies. Large quantities of alcohol, especially when consumed quickly, can lead to partial or complete blackouts (meaning the drinker cannot recall details for blocks of time), impaired balance and motor coordination, and difficulty making decisions.
When drinking and blacking out happen for a lengthy period, the user runs the risk of developing serious ongoing changes to the brain that produce a mental inability to stop drinking in addition to intense physical cravings for alcohol. These brain alterations may be the direct result of alcohol consumption or the indirect result of poor general health or liver damage that many long-term drinkers experience. In 2013, roughly 18,000 Americans died of alcoholic liver disease deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.