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For many people, periods of alcohol abuse are temporary and never lead to anything more. People simply grow out of this stage and move on to drinking more normally and socially throughout the rest of their life. For some individuals however, particularly those who are genetically inclined and who have a family history of alcoholism, the early stage of alcohol abuse continues to progress and develops into alcoholism.

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Many people are unaware of the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcohol abuse is a relatively common phenomenon, characterized by occasional and / or intentional excessive alcohol use. This is particularly true for young adults and college students. There is often a desire to connect or bond with peers that leads to abusing alcohol. Alcohol abuse can lead to significant consequences including hangovers, accidents, arrests and other aberrant behavior.

People who abuse alcohol are doing so by making a choice to drink heavily. Even for those who are not genetically predisposed to develop alcoholism, if they continue to alcohol abuse and other drugs, they are likely to also develop alcoholism. Basically, the more an individual drinks, the more likely they are to become and alcoholic.

During the course of a lifetime, approximately 10% of all people will develop alcoholism or addiction. If a person has one parent who is alcoholic, they are four times more likely than average to develop alcoholism. If a person has two parents who are alcoholic, they are eight times more likely to develop alcoholism. Therefore, there is a strong predisposition for the development of alcoholism. If it is know that there is alcoholism in a family, it is very helpful to delay age of first use of alcohol for children, adolescents and young adults. Studies have shown that the younger people begin to use and abuse alcohol, the more likely they are to develop alcoholism.

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