Basic Facts About Alcohol and Alcoholism

Drinking Can Become More Than a Bad Habit, It Can Be Deadly

Drunk young man at a party

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Alcohol is a dangerous drug. It is toxic to the body and as it is metabolized it changes into a known carcinogen.

Not only can excessive alcohol consumption cause many physical and cognitive consequences, but it can also cause a variety of social, economic and legal problems for the drinker.

A key symptom of an alcohol problem is if the person continues to drink in spite of all the problems it causes.

Unfortunately, alcohol consumption can become much more than a bad habit. Long-term or chronic alcohol abuse can result in severe alcohol abuse disorders, which if left untreated can be fatal.

Alcohol Is a Dangerous Drug
What do some people become alcoholics while others do not? Why do some people suffer serious negative health consequences of alcohol consumption while other drinkers don't? Scientists believe the differences in how the body metabolizes alcohol may be the key.

What Is Alcoholism?
How much alcohol is too much? Is there a safe level of alcohol consumption? What are the symptoms of an alcohol abuse disorder? What is the difference between a mild, moderate and severe disorder?

Alcohol Abuse Screening Quiz
Answering these questions will give you an idea if your drinking patterns are safe, risky or harmful. The test is completely confidential and anonymous.

Alcohol Problem FAQ
Frequently asked questions about alcohol problems binge drinking and alcohol dependence.

But It Doesn't Act Like a Disease!
The difficulty in recognizing alcoholism as a disease is it sure doesn't seem like one.

Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholic liver disease is only one negative health consequence of long-term excessive alcohol consumption, but it's a killer. Why is drinking alcohol so damaging to the liver?

Some Alcohol Effects Last Long Into Sobriety
Research has found that, even with prolonged sobriety, alcoholics show deficits in visuoperception and frontal executive functioning of the brain.

Problem Drinkers
Many people who have a problem with alcohol are not alcoholics and in order to quit drinking, they do not necessarily need medical treatment peer group support or a spiritual awakening.

Withdrawal Symptoms
When long-time drinkers or heavy drinkers decide to quit cold turkey they can experience withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening.

Hitting Bottom
For those suffering from the disease of alcoholism, it seems to be an almost universal truth that before things can get better they have to get worse -- sometimes a lot worse.

What is Alcoholism, Exactly?
For many people, the facts about alcoholism are not clear. What is alcoholism, exactly? How does it differ from alcohol abuse?

What Is a Dry Drunk?
Unfortunately, when many former drinkers go through the grieving process over the loss of their old friend the bottle some never get past the anger stage.

The 12 Steps Not for You?
If spiritual-based approaches to recovery are not for you, there are many other programs and methods available.

Neurotransmitters Key to Treating Alcoholics?
Researchers believe they have found a cellular mechanism underlying alcohol's effects, that when blocked can stop alcohol's effect on the brain.

Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers
If you are chemically dependent on alcohol, you may need medical assistance to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. Here's where to find a treatment center near you.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also offer information and resources on alcohol treatment.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

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  1. American Addictions Center. How Long Does It Take to Reverse Alcohol Damage?. Updated June 10, 2020.

  2. Banerjee N. Neurotransmitters in alcoholism: A review of neurobiological and genetic studiesIndian J Hum Genet. 2014;20(1):20–31. doi:10.4103/0971-6866.132750