Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
Alcohol abuse or dependence can develop very quickly or happen gradually over years.
In the beginning, your drinking might not seem to be any different from the way other people drink. You may drink only with friends or at parties. It may stay like this, or you may begin to drink more. Your drinking might become a way for you to feel normal or to cope with life's problems.
You might think that you can quit drinking at any time. Many people who have alcohol problems quit for days, weeks, or even months before they start drinking again. But unless you can consistently keep your drinking under control and not fall back into unhealthy patterns, you need help.
Problems from drinking
Long-term Reference heavy drinking Opens New Window harms your liver, nervous system, heart, and brain. It can cause health problems or make them worse. These problems include:
- Reference Cirrhosis Opens New Window or Reference pancreatitis Opens New Window.
- High blood pressure.
- Reference Osteoporosis Opens New Window.
- Certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Reference Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome Opens New Window.
Alcohol abuse also can contribute to stomach problems, interactions between Reference medicines and alcohol, and sexual problems. It can lead to violence, accidents, social isolation, and problems at work, school, or home. You also may have legal problems, such as traffic tickets or accidents, as a result of drinking.
Drinking alcohol can cause unique problems for Reference older adults, Reference pregnant women, and people who have other health conditions. If you are pregnant, you should not drink any alcohol, because it may harm your baby.
Drinking also makes symptoms of mental health problems worse. When you have a drinking problem and a mental health problem, it's called a Reference dual diagnosis. It's very important to treat all mental health problems, such as depression. You may drink less when mental health problems are treated.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 18, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction