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Does Alcohol Abuse Lead To Alcoholism?

By: Dave Andrews

Many people make the mistake of thinking that alcohol abuse and alcoholism is the same thing. However, this is incorrect, and although alcohol abuse and alcoholism may have notable similarities, there are significant differences between these two drinking problems.
Before we continue, let us define each.

Alcohol Abuse

Do to the frequent misunderstanding of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the following definition should give you a better understanding. Alcohol abuse can be articulated as follows:

It is a drinking pattern that leads to one or more of the following situations within a 12 month period.

-The person starts experiencing habitual alcohol related legal problems.
-The person tends to drink in situations that can lead to physical injuries.
-The person keeps drinking despite the personal and ongoing related relationship trouble.
-The person often fails to attend important responsibilities at work, school, or even home.

Now, let's define alcoholism.


Alcoholism is also often referred to as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence. In this case, alcoholism is a disease that often includes the following four components.

-Tolerance levels. The person will usually have the need to drink more and more simply to experience the 'buzz' or 'high' as it is known.
-Cravings. The person will tend to have a strong and recurring need to drink.
-Loss of control. The person will often experience a lack of control.
-Physical dependence. The person will experience heavy withdrawal symptoms when drinking is stopped, essentially causing the person to continue drinking.

So, does alcohol abuse lead to alcoholism?

The cause of alcoholism is not yet well established. However, it is possible for alcohol abuse to play a huge contributing factor in alcoholism. Moreover, there are several other factors that could lead to excessive drinking, and eventually lead to alcoholism. Some of these factors include:

-Genetic and biological factors. There is growing evidence for genetic and biological predispositions for this disease. This research, however, is controversial at this stage. There are also certain genetic factors that may cause a person to be more vulnerable to alcoholism. If you have an imbalance of brain chemicals, you may be more predisposed to alcoholism.
-Social factors. Social factors as well as cultural factors may contribute to alcoholism. The glamorous way that drinking is advertised in media sends many people the message that drinking alcohol is okay.
-Emotional factors. It is believed that there are certain stress hormones that may be associated with alcoholism. High stress levels, emotional pain and anxiety can lead people to excessive drinking to block out the turmoil.
-Psychological factors. Things like depression and low self-esteem may often lead a person to drinking alcohol. Also, having a partner or friend that drinks on a regular basis, but who may not be abusing alcohol, could lead to excessive drinking on your part.

For a better, more clear understanding on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, take a look at the stages of alcoholism.

Alcoholism often takes years to develop and usually begins with drinking for effect. Here are the stages of alcoholism:

-Drinking for the effect
-Getting used to alcohol
-Developing alcohol tolerance
-Getting blackouts
-Developing of alcohol related problems
-Getting withdrawal symptoms
-Losing control

At this point in time, drinking usually starts maintaining itself.

So, getting back to the question; "Does alcohol abuse lead to alcoholism?"

In short, alcohol abuse can be considered as a contributing factor and can assist in the developing of alcoholism. However, alcohol abuse alone is not alone responsible for the developing of alcoholism. There are several other factors that play a role in becoming an alcoholic, which will be discussed in another article.

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