Beer, wine, and liquor all contain alcohol. If you are drinking any of these, you are using alcohol. Your drinking patterns may vary, depending on who you are with and what you are doing.
You probably already know that drinking too much can cause many health problems. But even responsible drinking patterns can lead to health issues and other problems in your everyday life.
Alcoholism - risks; Alcohol abuse - risks; Alcohol dependence - risks; Risky drinking - risks
Long-term use of alcohol increases your chances of:
Even responsible drinking can lead to high blood pressure in some people.
Alcohol can affect your thinking and judgment each time you drink. Long-term alcohol use damages brain cells. This can lead to lasting damage to your memory, thinking, and the way you behave.
Damage to nerves from alcohol use can cause many problems, including
Drinking during pregnancy can harm the growing baby. Severe birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may occur.
Oftentimes, people drink to make themselves feel better or to block feelings of sadness, depression, nervousness, or worry. But alcohol can:
Families are often affected when someone in the home uses alcohol. Violence and conflict in the home is much more likely when a family member is abusing alcohol. Children who grow up in a home where alcohol abuse is present are more likely to:
Drinking too much alcohol even once can harm you or others. It can lead to:
First, ask yourself what type of drinker you are?
Even if you are a responsible drinker, drinking too much just once can be harmful.
Be aware of your drinking patterns. Learn ways to cut back on drinking.
If you cannot control your drinking or if your drinking is becoming harmful to yourself or others, seek help from:
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder: a comparison between DSM-IV and DSM-5. November 2013. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/dsmfactsheet/dsmfact.pdf. Accessed on May 11, 2014.
O'Connor PG. Alcohol abuse and dependence. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 32.
Sherin K, Seikel S. Alcohol use disorders. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 49.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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