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Understanding alcohol abuse and dependence

The holidays can be a time of joy but for some, it can be a time of despair and depression. Those feelings can also be ones that plague a person throughout the year and can be linked to alcoholism.

Though the general public might not know the specifics, few men and women would be surprised to learn alcohol abuse and depression are often linked. However, it does remain a mystery to many people just why some individuals can have one or two drinks and not be dependent, while others must avoid alcohol entirely. To better understand why that is, it helps to understand what alcoholism is.

What is alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse refers to having unhealthy or potentially dangerous drinking habits. Those habits can include daily alcohol consumption or overconsumption of alcohol. Someone who abuses alcohol will continue to do so despite knowing their behavior is causing some problems in their life, be it relationship problems, problems at work, legal problems, or problems with friends and family members.

Men, women or even children who abuse alcohol are at risk of growing dependent. When a person is dependent on alcohol, that person is considered to be an alcoholic. The strong need or craving to drink is there, and an alcoholic will feel as if they need to drink to get through the day.

Is alcoholism hereditary?

In a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research indicated the familial transmission of alcoholism is at least in part genetic and not just the result of environment. Research is ongoing to determine just what it is that a person inherits that increases their vulnerability to alcoholism and how those inherited factors team with environment, but past research has indicated that a person's susceptibility to alcoholism is at least partially genetic.

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