Alcohol Abuse 2010

Alcohol Abuse
by Yu Sun Chin


"When repeated use of alcohol or other drugs leads to problems but does not include compulsive use or addiction, and stopping the drug does not lead to significant withdrawal symptoms the term substance abuse applies. This, along with Substance Dependence are considered substance abuse disorders."1

What is it: "A maladaptive pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress."1 "people whose use of alcohol has negative effects on any aspect of their lives, including health, relationships, work or school and money".4
Who is most likely to get it:

"People with an alcohol use disorder can be highly functioning, highly compromised, or somewhere in between.
A related "all or nothing" misconception is that all heavy drinkers are automatically alcoholics. Some are, some aren't. Those without problems at this point are still at risk for developing alcoholism and other conditions such as liver disease in the future.

The concept of risk is sometimes difficult to grasp. An example is high cholesterol, which increases the chances for a heart attack. Similarly, heavy drinking raises the chances for developing alcoholism. Your individual risk depends in part on how much, how often, and how quickly you drink, along with how young you were when you had a first drink, and whether you have a family history of alcoholism."2
"Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol is also are factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism."3

When do people get it: "And alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages 18-29 and lowest among adults ages 65 and older."2

"(1) recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)

(2) recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)

(3) recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)

(4) continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of Intoxication, physical fights) "1

"Health problems
  • upset stomach;
  • diarrhea;
  • lack of coordination and judgment;
  • headaches; and
  • insomnia.
  • losing friends;
  • losing jobs;
  • child abuse and domestic violence;
  • separation of family members; and
  • divorce.
Work Or School Problems
  • arriving late;
  • making more mistakes;
  • leaving assignments incomplete;
  • problems with bosses and co-workers;
  • getting poor grades or evaluations;
  • flunking out of school; and
  • losing jobs.
Financial Problems
  • having less money for necessary expenses like food and clothing;
  • neglecting to pay bills; and
  • creating additional expenses, such as extra medical costs, fines, or car repairs."4


"Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol is also are factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism."3

"Drinking problems are due to many interconnected factors, including genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. People who have a family history of alcoholism or who themselves suffer from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are particularly at risk, because alcohol may be used to self-medicate."5

"Three oral medications--disulfiram (Antabuse®), naltrexone (Depade®, ReVia®), and acamprosate (Campral®)--are currently approved to treat alcohol dependence. In addition, an injectable, long-acting form of naltrexone (Vivitrol®) is available. These medications have been shown to help people with dependence reduce their drinking, avoid relapse to heavy drinking, and achieve and maintain abstinence.

Naltrexone acts in the brain to reduce craving for alcohol after someone has stopped drinking. Acamprosate is thought to work by reducing symptoms that follow lengthy abstinence, such as anxiety and insomnia. Disulfiram discourages drinking by making the person taking it feel sick after drinking alcohol.
Other types of drugs are available to help manage symptoms of withdrawal (such as shakiness, nausea, and sweating) if they occur after someone with alcohol dependence stops drinking. Although medications are available to help treat alcoholism, there is no "magic bullet." In other words, no single medication is available that works in every case and/or in every person. Developing new and more effective medications to treat alcoholism remains a high priority for researchers. (See also "News Releases," Jan. 17, 1995: Naltrexone Approved for Alcoholism Treatment and "Publication," Alcohol Alert No. 61: Neuroscience Research and Therapeutic Targets.)"2

"Medicines most often used to treat withdrawal symptoms during detoxification include: Medicines used to help you stay sober include:
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse), which reduces the pleasure alcohol produces and makes you sick to your stomach when you drink.
  • Naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol), which interferes with the pleasure you get from drinking. Vivitrol is a once-a-month injection used to treat alcohol dependence.
  • Acamprosate (Campral), which may reduce your craving for alcohol.
  • Topiramate (Topamax), a medicine used to treat seizures. One recent study shows that it also might help treat alcohol problems.6 Experts are studying how this medicine, and medicines like it, might help with recovery from alcohol abuse and addiction."6


"Mental health professionals specializing in alcohol abuse offer inpatient and outpatient treatment on a per-case basis. Treatments include psychotherapy ("talk therapy") and/or psychiatric therapy (prescribing medication). To successfully begin alcohol abuse therapy the individual needs first to stop drinking alcohol. This is called "abstinence." The steps that follow will differ based on the therapy model. Inpatient therapy is for individuals who are unable to function at home, work or socially and need ongoing care and supervision by health professionals. Inpatient therapy will range from short-term to long-term, depending on the individual. Inpatient therapy often includes medication, detoxification and psychotherapy. With outpatient therapy, treatments vary. The individual may undergo any combination of psychotherapy, detoxification, prescription medication or attend AA 12-step programs."7

Case Study
George is a 30 year old junior marketing executive. He shares an apartment with his brother and is not in a relationship. George has a very active social life. Almost every night of the week, George can be found at some sort of festivity that is at a bar, club or restaurant. At all of these occasions, liquor is present. George often jokes about how he must look like an alcoholic because in most pictures he is holding a drink. In addition, the woman he has begun a flirtation with finds that every time she calls him he is drinking. She thinks nothing of it, since this man must just enjoy one or two social drinks. The fact that he drinks every night does not flag him as an alcoholic in her eyes. They have spoken on the phone scores of times, spent time together and been in constant communication for a two month period. In addition, he really is such a nice guy. He casually mentions that his mother has asked him to promise not to drink. They laugh about how parents often refuse to view their children as adults.

One night before George goes out with his new lady friend, he tells her a few stories. One included waking up one morning after a night of drinking with blood on his shirt. The caveat being he had no idea where the blood came from. On another occasion, upon being shoved by a young woman in a club after drinking for a while, George pushed her back and the woman went flying across the room. George admits that at this point, he realized he did not know what his alcohol limit was. He stated this in past tense; these events had happened about a year prior and since then, George had allegedly altered his drinking habits. This statement was made as George pulled out two small bottles of vodka. One was for himself, one for his lady friend. When she declined the offer of drink, he downed both bottles himself.

Two hours later at the club the couple had gone to, George has drunk two beers and was ready for a shot of tequila. He, at this point, is holding his liquor well. However, once the shot of tequila comes into play, George succeeds in alienating his new friend. He spills salt all over the bar, begins dancing sloppily and says more than a few insulting things to his date. By the end of the evening, the young lady wants nothing more to do with him. George can’t understand why.8

Related Disorders
- Substance abuse
- Alcohol dependence- Alcohol anxiety disorder- Alcohol intoxication- Alcohol mood disorder- Alcohol psychotic disorder- Alcohol withdrawal 1

Related Links
4. www.alcoholanddrugabuse.com5. www.drugabuse.gov7.

Pictures & Videos
Alcohol Abuse 2010 - The Neuron9 Alcohol Abuse 2010 - The Neuron10

WAPA Citations
1. American Psychological Association. (1995). Substance Abuse. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from
2. National Institutes of Health. (December 2004). Rethinking Drinking. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from
3. National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (February 2007). FAQs for the General Public. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from
4. Nucleus Medical Art. (September 2005). What Is Alcohol Abuse? In ehealthMD. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from
5. Joanna Saisan, MSW, Deborah Cutter, Psy.D. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. (January 2009). Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In HELPGUIDE.ORG. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from
6. Amal Chakraburtty, MD . (November 12, 2008). Understanding Alcohol Abuse - Treatment. In WebMD. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
7. WebMD. (February 15, 2008). Alcohol Abuse and Dependence. In WebMD. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
8. EHow. (2004). Alcohol Abuse Therapy. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
9. US No Drugs. (2002). Alcohol abuse. Retreieved March 19, 2010, from

10. Susan Brink. (June 30, 2008). Drug, alcohol abuse study measures the high cost of under-treated addiction. In Los Angelas Times. Retrieved 19 March, 2010, from,0,142674.story?track=rss.
11. Hahn, R. (2009). Alcohol abuse [Television series episode]. In (Executive producer), Videojug. Youtube. Retrieved from

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