Alcoholism (which is also sometimes referred to as alcohol use disorder, or AUD) is a chronic disease in which drinking alcohol to excess makes a person unable to live a healthy life – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Alcoholism is very common, affecting an estimated 17 million adults and 855,000 adolescents in the United States. A drinking problem can range from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the number of symptoms experienced. For example, a person struggling with alcoholism may begin missing deadlines at work or other obligations; use alcohol in situations that are physically dangerous, like driving a car or operating machinery; and/or continue consuming alcoholic drinks, despite the problems that it creates in his or her relationships. Check out the “Symptoms” section in Alcoholism 101 for a full list of the kinds of warning signs you might be seeing.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may have a problem with alcohol, it’s time to talk to a doctor, health care professional or psychotherapist who can evaluate symptoms and make a diagnosis. Whether you’ve just noticed the problem or you’ve seen it get worse over a long period of time, it’s important to know that there are a variety of treatment options and resources available that can help.