What is alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder?

Alcoholism has been known by a variety of terms, including alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Today, it’s referred to as alcohol use disorder.

It occurs when you drink so much that your body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When this happens, alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life.

People with alcohol use disorder will continue to drink even when drinking causes negative consequences, like losing a job or destroying relationships with people they love. They may know that their alcohol use negatively affects their lives, but it’s often not enough to make them stop drinking.

Some people may drink alcohol to the point that it causes problems, but they’re not physically dependent on alcohol. This used to be referred to as alcohol abuse.

What causes it?

The cause of alcohol use disorder is still unknown. Alcohol use disorder develops when you drink so much that chemical changes in the brain occur. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings you get when you drink alcohol. This makes you want to drink more often, even if it causes harm.

Eventually, the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol use go away and the person with alcohol use disorder will engage in drinking to prevent withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant and even dangerous.

Alcohol use disorder typically develops gradually over time. It’s also known to run in families.


Risk Factors

What are the risk factors?

Although the exact cause of alcohol use disorder is unknown, there are certain factors that may increase your risk for developing this disease.

Known risk factors include having:

      • more than 15 drinks per week if you’re male
      • more than 12 drinks per week if you’re female
      • more than 5 drinks per day at least once a week (binge drinking)
      • a parent with alcohol use disorder
      • a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia

You may also be at a greater risk for alcohol use disorder if you:

      • are a young adult experiencing peer pressure
      • have low self-esteem
      • experience a high level of stress
      • live in a family or culture where alcohol use is common and accepted
      • have a close relative with alcohol use disorder

Use the button below to use The Alcohol Test to find out if alcohol may be affecting your life negatively, and find the the required help.



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