Skip to Content
View Additional Content In This Section
Some people continue to drink excessive amounts of alcohol even
though it causes problems in their lives. These people have an alcohol use problem.
Most people refer to people who drink too much alcohol as having a
drinking problem. Health professionals distinguish between people who have
problem drinking (alcohol abuse) and people who are
dependent on alcohol (alcohol dependence or alcoholism).
The causes of alcohol use problems and alcoholism are complex and involve
physical, social, and emotional aspects.
People with alcoholism may not drink alcohol every day, but they
usually drink heavily when they drink and have withdrawal symptoms if they stop
Alcoholism is a lifelong disease that often causes health,
emotional, behavioral, and social problems. If untreated, it can even lead to
death from the effects of alcohol on the heart, liver, and other parts of the
body. Alcoholism cannot be cured, but it can be successfully treated.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.