Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that is harmful to the drinker or others. The following situations, occurring repeatedly in a 12-month period, would be indicators of alcohol abuse: -Missing work or skipping child care responsibilities because of drinking
-Drinking in situations that are dangerous, such as before or while driving
-Being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for hurting someone while drunk
-Continuing to drink even though there are ongoing alcohol-related tensions with friends and family.
Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a disease. It is chronic, or lifelong, and it can be both progressive and life threatening. Alcoholism is based in the brain. Alcohol's short-term effects on the brain are what cause someone to feel high, relaxed, or sleepy after drinking. In some people, alcohol's long-term effects can change the way the brain reacts to alcohol, so that the urge to drink can be as compelling as the hunger for food. Both a person's genetic makeup and his or her environment contribute to the risk for alcoholism. The following are some of the typical characteristics of alcoholism:
-Craving: a strong need, or compulsion, to drink
-Loss of control: the inability to stop drinking once a person has begun
-Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking
-Tolerance: the need for increasing amounts of alcohol to get "high."