ALCOHOL FACT SHEET Types of Alcohol Problems Alcohol use disorders include alcohol dependence (known as alcoholism) and alcohol abuse. 2 Alcohol abuse is characterized by clinically significant impairment or distress but does not entail physical dependence. Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is characterized by impaired control over drinking, tolerance, withdrawal syndrome when alcohol is removed, neglect of normal activities for drinking, and continued drinking despite recurrent related physical or psychological 3 problems. 4 Risky drinking includes drinking beyond moderate levels either on a regular basis or on a particular occasion.
Who Has an Alcohol Problem? Nearly 14 million American adults meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders. 6 Approximately one-half of US adults report family history of alcoholism or problem drinking. An estimated 74% of current male drinkers and 72% of current female drinkers aged 21 and older at least once a year exceed 7 guidelines for low risk drinking. 8 More than 18% of Americans experience alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some time in their lives. How Can I Recognize an Alcohol Problem? Drinking to calm nerves, forget worries or boost a sad mood Guilt about drinking Unsuccessful attempts to cut down/stop drinking Lying about or hiding drinking habits Causing harm to oneself or someone else as a result of drinking Needing to drink increasingly greater amounts in order to achieve desired effect Feeling irritable, resentful or unreasonable when not drinking 9 Medical, social, family or financial problems caused by drinking
Harmful Effects of Alcohol Heavy drinking raises the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, accidents, violence, suicides, birth defects and 10 overall mortality. 11 Economic costs to society were estimated at about $185 billion for 1998. Harmful and hazardous drinking is involved in about one-third of suicides, one-half of homicides, and one-third of child abuse .12 cases 13 Alcohol is involved in a large proportion of unintentional deaths from falls, burns, and drownings. Alcohol and Women Women overall drink less than men but are more likely to experience adverse consequences including damage to the heart muscle, 14,15 liver, and brain, trauma resulting from auto crashes, interpersonal violence, and death. 16 The progression of alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men. 17 Researchers have identified no safe threshold for drinking during pregnancy. Teens and College Students In 1999, 44% of college students reported binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks in a row for males or 4 or more drinks in a row for females during the past two weeks); nearly 23% of college students reported frequent binge drinking (bingeing three or more 18 times in a two-week period). The rate of binge drinking among fraternity and sorority members is considerably higher: 65% in 1999. Among those living in a 19 fraternity or sorority house, the rate of binge drinking is still higher (79%), though lower than in 1997 (82%). Among college students who consumed alcohol, more than 47% in 1999 reported drinking to get drunk (compared with 40% in 1993 20 and 52% in 1997). Young persons who begin drinking before age 13 are four times as likely to develop alcohol dependence and twice as likely to 21 develop alcohol abuse as those who begin drinking at age 21. 22 More than 41% of high school seniors perceive no great risk in consuming four to five drinks nearly every day. th th Approximately 22% of 8 graders, 41% of 10 graders, and 50% of 12th graders report having consumed alcohol during the past 23 month. th th th 24 About 8% of 8 , 23% of 10 , and 32% of 12 graders report having been drunk during the past month. th th 25 About 14% of 8 , 26% of 10 , and 30% of 12th graders report binge drinking during the past two weeks. Alcohol is frequently a factor in the three leading causes of death (motor vehicle crashes, homicides, and suicides) for 15 to 24 year 26,27 olds. For more information on alcohol research or screening, visit www.niaaa.nih.gov NATIONAL ALCOHOL SCREENING DAY IS APRIL 11, 2002 CALL 1-800-405-9200 after March 11 TO FIND A SITE NEAR YOU
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