Excessive Drinking

General or Other | Preventative Medicine | Excessive Drinking (Symptom)


Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences. Alcohol abuse is sometimes referred to by the less specific term alcoholism.

There are two types of alcoholics: those who have anti-social and pleasure-seeking tendencies and those who are anxiety-ridden who are able to go without drinking for long periods of time, but are unable to control themselves once they start. Binge drinking is another form of alcohol abuse. Frequent binge drinking or getting severely drunk more than twice is classed as alcohol misuse.

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. Certain manifestations of alcohol abuse include: failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school or home; drinking in dangerous situations, such as while driving; legal problems associated with alcohol use; and continued drinking despite problems that are caused or worsened by drinking. Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol dependence.


Alcohol dependence has no one single cause and is not directly genetically passed from one generation to another. Rather, it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors.

Symptoms are the defining characteristic of alcohol abuse. Patient will often complain of difficulty with interpersonal relationships, problems at work or school, and legal problems. Additionally patients do complain of irritability and insomnia.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Signs of alcohol abuse are related to alcohols effects on organ systems. However, while these findings are often present, they are not necessary to make a diagnosis of alcohol abuse. Signs of alcohols effects on the central nervous system acutely include inebriation and poor judgment; chronic anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Alcohols effects on the liver include elevated liver function tests.