Alcohol use can be put into five categories, with most drug users falling into the experimental and recreational ones. Harms associated with alcohol use can occur at all levels of use.
Experimental use: Out of curiosity, a person may drink alcohol a couple of times. Not having built up a tolerance to alcohol, not knowing how you will react or how it will affect you is a risk in itself.
Recreational use: A person chooses to use alcohol in social situations or to seek a better mood.
Situational use: Alcohol is used to cope with particular situations, such as stress-filled times or times of depression or loss.
Intensive use: This is also known as “binge drinking.” A person consumes one drink right after another in an attempt to become intoxicated or use is continuous over a number of days or weeks for the sole purpose of remaining drunk.
Dependent use: After a certain amount of time, alcohol abuse turns into addiction. The individual has developed a physical dependency on the alcohol. They feel the need to drink constantly or daily in order to feel normal, or to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Dependence at this point is physical. Increasing numbers of alcohol drinkers become dependent on this substance.
It is natural for people to move between categories, and one stage does not mean it will lead to dependence. Movement between categories occurs for a good amount of time as a person attempts to balance the good feelings of alcohol use to the costs of drinking.
The causes of alcoholism depend very much on the person and the conditions under which it is taken. Researchers seem to think that some people may be more prone to addiction than others. They are trying to determine whether there may be genes that predispose certain people to addiction. Social circumstances play an important role in alcohol abuse. High stress, low self-esteem, and peer pressure can all lead individuals to abuse alcohol. Ease of access to alcohol is another cause of abuse of this substance. Alcohol is legal for persons 21 years of age and older. It is sold in liquor stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and many other specialty shops. People abuse alcohol for a reason. Understanding what the person’s motivation is helps to explain why that person is abusing alcohol.