Alcohol Abuse Why it's addictive & how it's diagnosed

Alcohol is by far the most used substance in America. Through significant promotion of alcohol use on social media and entertainment venues, alcohol abuse has become a problem across the country.

Alcohol abuse can become more severe as the person becomes dependent on the substance. Some side effects include slurred speech, confusion, coma, problems breathing, and even death. The CDC reports 88,000 deaths in the United States each year due to alcohol-related issues.

Struggling with alcoholism? We can help.

1 in 10 adults die from alcohol abuse each year in the United States. As the most common addiction in the country, there are numerous resources to help you or your loved one get the help they need. Speak with The Hope House addiction specialists today to learn more about your options.

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol occurs in three forms (isopropyl, methyl, and ethyl) all toxic to the human body. Ethyl alcohol is the only form that can be consumed and is typically produced by the fermentation of starches, yeast, and sugar.

Classified as a central nervous system depressant, alcohol is rapidly absorbed through the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. The liver then metabolizes the toxic substance but is only able to break down small amounts of alcohol at a time. This leads to people experiencing both physical and behavioral side effects. The changes vary largely as the amount consumed, alcohol content in each drink, and overall body chemistry play a factor.

3 Forms of Alcohol

When someone thinks of a glass of alcohol, they are thinking of what’s scientifically known as ethyl alcohol. This form of alcohol is mixed with a variety of ingredients giving a specific taste and level of pure alcohol in each serving. There are also two other forms of alcohol you likely use in other areas of your life.


Isopropyl alcohol is often mixed with water so as to be used as a rubbing alcohol antiseptic. It is typically found in aftershave, hand lotions, and other forms of cosmetics.


Methyl alcohol, or methanol, is used as a solvent in the manufacturing of plastics, polyesters, and other chemicals.


Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, like isopropyl and methyl, is a clear and colorless liquid. However, this form of alcohol is the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits.

Popular Alcoholic Beverages

and their typical serving size and alcohol content



12oz of beer typically contains 5% alcohol



5oz of wine typically contains 7% alcohol

Distilled Spirits

Distilled Spirits

(gin, rum, vodka, etc)
1.5 oz of distilled spirits typically contain 40% alcohol

Malt Liquor

Malt Liquor

(lager, ale, etc)
8oz of malt liquor typically contains 7% alcohol

Are you worried you may have a drinking problem? We can help.

Alcohol addiction can come in many different forms and it may be hard for some people to know or recognize a problem in themselves or in a loved one. It’s also important to remember that just because someone binge drinks on occasion or abuses alcohol enough to become physically dependent on it, they may not meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol addiction.

Medical Definition of <br/> Alcohol Abuse

Medical Definition of
Alcohol Abuse

“Alcohol abuse is the consumption of alcohol in a way that can put the user at an increased risk of consequences.” – CDC

Oftentimes, alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholism and thus is considered a “mild” for of Alcohol Use Disorder. Those abusing alcohol should be closely monitored for signs of severe alcoholism.

Medical Definition of <br/> Alcoholism

Medical Definition of

“Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a chronic disease associated with experiencing withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, or alcohol tolerance.” – CDC

Alcohol dependence is considered a “severe” form of Alcohol Use Disorder and requires medical intervention to overcome.

Medical Definition of  Binge Drinking

Medical Definition of
Binge Drinking

“Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.” – CDC

While binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse, most are not alcoholics.  However, binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S.

Conquer alcohol addiction at The Hope House

Why is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol can be addictive for a variety of reasons and will vary from person-to-person. For most, consuming alcohol releases pleasure chemicals (like dopamine) throughout the body. Continued drinking can permanently alter the brain and alter the reward circuit in the body.

Factors in Alcoholism

Genetic <br/> Factors


Research shows your genetics are responsible for about half the risk of developing AUD. While there is no “alcoholic gene,” there are traits that can be passed on, making one’s body respond differently to alcohol and more inclined to abuse it. Alternately, there are genes that make one less likely to abuse alcohol, as well.

Physical <br/> Factors


Adverse life events, traumatic experiences, and early exposure to alcohol are all environmental factors that can influence a person. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is an assessment used to measure experiences as a child that increase one’s risk of alcohol abuse.

Psychological  Factors


A common risk factor of alcohol addiction is mental health problems. Depression, bipolar disorder, and many more, have often led to alcohol abuse as a form of self-medication. Simultaneous substance abuse and mental health issues are referred to as a dual diagnosis and require a specific treatment programs.

Who Is Most Likely to Abuse Alcohol?

While addiction to alcohol can affect almost anyone, studies show various factors that may make a person more inclined to addiction. A person’s genetics, the makeup of their brain, and the environment they are in are the most likely indicators of abuse. Statistically, men and those of native american descent are most likely to experience alcohol addiction.

Mental Health & Alcoholism

With so many patients having a dual diagnosis we’ve developed a dedicated program to ensure they receive the personalized care they deserve. From staffing clinicians who specialize in multiple disciplines to offering whole-body therapies, our team is committed to ensuring the success of our clients.

Alcoholism by Race

Alcohol abuse can affect any race, gender, profession, or age. However, when looking across studies, specific groups of people appear to experience alcohol addiction more than others. A recent study found that 6.4% of Native Americans abuse alcohol, while just 2.4% of Asian Americans have been diagnosed with alcoholism.

Alcoholism by Gender

When analyzing the same data by gender, men appeared more likely to be diagnosed with alcoholism (5.4%). Sociodemographic alone cannot determine a person’s likelihood to abuse alcohol. For example, many Asian Americans metabolize alcohol differently than other races giving them a negative reaction to alcohol, which may be one of the reasons they experience the lowest rate of alcoholism.

Reclaim your life from alcohol addiction.

Schedule an assessment with our addiction specialists today.

Don't become a statistic.

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