Learning key facts about alcohol can help you determine if you or a loved one may need addiction treatment. The below alcoholism FAQs include some common queries.
Is Alcoholism a Genetically Inherited Disease?
Research indicates that more than 50 percent of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking. Although research supports a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, this does not guarantee that every child of an alcoholic will have a drinking problem and become an alcoholic. Some people develop alcoholism even though there is no family history.1
Is There a Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?
Alcohol abuse often results in harm to one’s health, relationships or ability to work. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to full-blown alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. While both alcohol abuse and alcoholism result in many of the same physical and behavioral problems, the primary difference is that alcoholism is an addiction and chronic disease. All of the problems associated with abuse are exacerbated by a person’s powerful dependence, addiction and craving for alcohol.2
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is heavy drinking occurring over a short period of time that leads to a legal level of intoxication within a couple of hours. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines binge drinking as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically requires that women consume four drinks and men consume five drinks in about two hours.3
Why Is Underage Drinking Risky?
Alcohol use by underage drinkers is correlated with many other risky behaviors including tobacco use, co-occurring illicit substance use, sexually risky behaviors, lower school performance, conduct problems and delinquency. Research has shown that youth who use alcohol before age 15 are six times more likely to become alcohol dependent than adults who begin drinking at age 21. Underage drinking is also linked to the three highest causes of adolescent mortality: drinking-related vehicular accidents, suicide and homicide.2,4
- Frequently Asked Questions From Young People. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website. https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/underage-issues/frequently-asked-questions-from-young-people Updated July 25 2015. Accessed October 3, 2016.
- Frequently Asked Questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm Updated August 2, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
- Drinking Levels Defined. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking Accessed October 3, 2016.
- Windle M. Drinking Over the Lifespan: Focus on Early Adolescents and Youth. Alcohol Res. 2016;38(1):95-101.