Abuse of alcoholic beverages continues to be a serious problem in the United States of America and many youngsters are becoming victims of this harmful practice. What is alcohol abuse? According to the DSM-IV, alcohol abuse can be defined as the continued over use of alcoholic beverages even after knowing the behavior is harmful to your health. Another term which is used in place of alcohol abuse is alcoholism. Many definitions for alcoholism exist but the one used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is my favorite. According to the writers of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic”. Binge drinking, characterized by consumption during one setting of greater than five drinks in men or four drinks and women, is also a form of abuse of alcohol.

How can you recognize alcohol abuse? It is characterized by a variety of symptoms like an insatiable desire for more alcohol, inability to control the quantity of intake, requiring larger amounts of alcohol to get to the same feeling, and other physical symptoms like vomiting, sweating, etc. Alcohol abuse can be considered to be a disease because for an alcoholic, alcohol becomes a basic need. He/she will not be able to survive without it. Even if their health is in disarray, they will not be able to quit drinking.

Alcohol abuse is chronic. The occurrence of alcoholism is influenced by genetic predisposition as well as the lifestyle of the particular person. Even though alcoholism can be inherited, the lifestyle you lead plays a telling role in deciding whether you are an alcoholic or not. The easy availability of alcohol is a factor that encourages alcohol abuse. As of now, no cure has been developed for alcoholism. The only means by which you can control alcoholism is to stay away from alcohol. However, staying away from alcohol alone does not mean that you are cured. An alcoholic will always be vulnerable to relapse.

Even though no specific cure is available, alcohol abuse can be treated. The most successful program for maintaining an alcohol free lifestyle is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12 step of AA are a blueprint for living. The truth is that everyone could benefit by attempting to understand them. Counseling techniques, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also a useful tool for treating alcoholism. Medication management for alcohol abuse includes drugs like acamprosate (campral), disulfiram (antabuse), and a newly approved form of naltrexone (vivitrol). These medicines have proved to be useful in many cases. However, there is no guarantee that a particular medicine will work wonders with anyone. It is a continuous process of treatment and evaluation.