Alcohol affects people in different ways. Some people can
enjoy a glass of wine with food and drink moderate amounts of alcohol in social
settings without any problems. Having one or fewer drinks per day for women and
two or fewer drinks per day for men is considered moderate drinking, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drinking alcohol too much or too often, or being unable to
control alcohol consumption, can be a sign of a larger problem. Two different
issues that some people can develop are alcohol abuse or alcoholism, also known
as alcohol dependency.
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but there
are marked differences. People who abuse alcohol drink too much on occasion and
their drinking habits often result in risky behavior and poor judgment. But
alcohol abusers generally aren't dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism, on the other
hand, means a person needs alcohol to get through their day.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says
that about 18 million people in the United States struggle with alcohol use
disorders. These disorders can be disruptive and life-threatening.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can cause serious health
conditions. Alcohol worsens certain disorders, such as osteoporosis. It can
lead to certain cancers. Alcohol abuse also makes it difficult to diagnose
other health issues, such as heart disease. This is due to the way alcohol
affects the circulatory system.