Alcoholism is one of the most prevalent forms of substance abuse in the United States today. There are two different types of addiction to alcohol:

• Alcoholism: You have both a mental and physical dependence on alcohol. Regardless of the side effects the addict may be experiencing, he or she will continue to drink alcohol as the body has become dependent on the substance.
• Alcohol abuse: The use of alcohol has consequences; however there is no evidence of physical addiction present. In many cases, continued alcohol abuse will lead to alcoholism.

At this time, there has been no scientific evidence to support a cause for alcoholism or alcohol abuse. However, several studies that have been conducted point to a potential genetic trigger, though no specific genes or abnormalities have been pinpointed as the cause. Studies have identified that specific behaviors generally lead to alcoholism. These include:

• Men who consume more than 15 alcoholic beverages per week; women who consume more than 12 alcoholic beverages per week. or
• Either gender who consumes more than 5 alcoholic beverages in one sitting at least once per week.
Of course, other behaviors and characteristic traits can also be used as a predictor of future alcoholism. These include:
• Teens and adolescents experiencing peer pressure
• Mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
• Easy access to alcohol
• Low self esteem or stressful lifestyle

If you suspect that you or someone you love may have a problem with alcohol, ask yourself or your loved one to answer these questions:

1. Have you ever driven while under the influence of alcohol?
2. Do you find that you have to consume more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effects?
3. Have you ever been concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume?
4. Have you ever had memory lapses after consuming alcohol?
5. Has drinking ever caused you to miss work or family function?
6. Is someone else worried about the amount of alcohol you consume?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may have a problem with alcohol and should see someone in order to get your addiction under control.