What Is Alcohol Misuse?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), alcohol is the most commonly used and misused substance in the United States.1 Those who misuse alcohol are not necessarily addicted or dependent on alcohol. An individual can misuse alcohol without drinking on a consistent basis. For example, an individual who misuses alcohol may only drink once a week. However, when the individual drinks, they may put themselves in risky situations or drink enough to cause problems.
Addiction is a chronic disease that involves the uncontrolled, continued pursuit and use of substances despite any harmful consequences.3-6 Individuals who suffer with alcohol addiction are often diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). They may also have developed a dependency on alcohol.
The effects that alcohol can have on a person will vary, and the factors that influence these effects include age, health status, family history, and how much and how often one drinks.