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Because drinking is such a frequent societal occurrence, it can be difficult for individuals to admit that they or a loved one has a drinking problem. The penalties of alcohol abuse are severe. Alcohol abuse results in extreme damage to one's health, their loved ones, and to society. It causes thousands of innocent fatalities yearly, and worsens situations relating to violent crimes and domestic violence.

Social drinking is a widespread practice in many cultures around the world. In these cultures, drinking a glass of wine or beer while having a meal is a common occurrence. Even in the workplace, alcohol consumption takes place when coworkers go out for drinks after work or use it to entertain their clients.

Alcohol abuse is different from social drinking in that when alcohol is abused it becomes the abuser's focus. He or she only desires to attend social events when alcohol is involved; if not, he or she is unable to have a good time. Arriving at the bar or preparing a drink right after coming home from work is more critical than bonding with family and friends. Often, alcohol is the source used to avoid painful feelings or troubled relationships. Rising dependence on alcohol results in alcoholism, the stage where addiction occurs and the individual becomes physically dependent on alcohol and has no control over how much they consume.

Alcohol abuse and addiction can occur because of a number of reasons. Although the connection between genetics and the environment is not completely known, individuals who have alcoholism running in their family face a higher risk of abusing alcohol. If the individual suffers from a mental illness and abuses alcohol, it can worsen his alcohol abuse, creating a "dual diagnosis" situation.

Consorting with individuals who drink heavily is an easy way for an individual to begin abusing alcohol. Many people start drinking alcohol because of a bet or a dare from friends. Teenagers may feel that they won't be accepted if they do not succumb to their peers' urging to consume alcohol. If drinking is frequently displayed during work celebrations, an employee might feel pressured in conforming. An individual who experiences stressful situations or undergoes a major life change may turn to alcohol to get them through the ordeal.

Alcohol abuse occurs when an individual consumes too much alcohol on a frequent basis. It is the absorbance of alcohol that can be destructive to the individual and/or to others. Still, an alcohol abuser shows some ability in setting limits and establishing some form of control over their drinking. Although some individuals can maintain this behavior for a long period of time, all alcohol abusers stand a chance of developing alcoholism, at which time the disease can be life threatening. An individual who abuses alcohol or is addicted to it typically demonstrates slurred speech, dizziness, unsteadiness, blackouts, weight loss, sore or upset stomach, red face or cheeks, numbness or tingling hands and feet, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms such as (tremors, irritability, confusion, and hallucinations).

An individual trying to recover from alcohol abuse has a long road ahead of them because it takes considerable time for the brain and body to recuperate from the adverse effects of alcohol. Learning how to cope with life without the use of alcohol is an ongoing process for the alcohol abuser.

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