Alcohol Misuse : Exploring the Causes and Consequences


Alcohol abuse refers to drinking in a dangerous way or developing an alcohol dependence. Both men and women are recommended not to habitually consume more than 14 units of alcohol each week to minimize health concerns.

8g or 10 ml of pure alcohol constitutes one unit of alcohol. A 125ml, small glass of wine has roughly 1.5 units of alcohol in it.

Alcohol misuse is a pattern of drinking that includes issues with self-control, obsession with alcohol, or using alcohol even when it creates issues. You may also have adverse withdrawal symptoms if there is a sudden reduction in the amount of alcohol you consume. Excessive drinking which is frequently referred to as alcoholism is a component of alcohol misuse.

Any alcohol usage that threatens your health or safety or results in other alcohol-related issues is considered unhealthy. It is likely that you have alcohol misuse if your drinking habits cause severe discomfort and interfere with your everyday functioning. Mild to severe variations are possible. Early treatment is crucial since even a moderate illness can worsen and cause major issues.


Your body's reaction to alcohol and how it impacts your behaviour can be influenced by genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors. According to research, drinking might have a stronger influence on some individuals, which can result in an alcohol use disorder.

Over time, excessive alcohol use may alter the normal operation of the parts of your brain connected to pleasure, judgement, and the capacity for behaviour control. As a result, you can start to want alcohol in an effort to boost positive emotions or lessen unpleasant ones.

How to check if you have Alcohol Misuse symptoms?

Please speak to your doctor if you think you use too much alcohol, your drinking is causing issues, or your family is worried about your drinking. Other options to receive assistance include speaking with a mental health professional.

Many people are in denial about alcohol misuse, so you could think you don't have a drinking issue. You can be unaware of how much alcohol you consume or how many issues in your life are caused by alcohol usage. When your family, friends, or coworkers urge you to analyse your drinking patterns or get treatment, pay attention to them.

Risk Factors

Although alcohol misuse can start at any age, it is more common in the 20s and 30s. Alcohol usage may start in teenagers.

The following are risk factors for alcohol misuse:

  • Drinking continuously from a younger age. Alcohol-related issues can result from drinking excessively on a regular basis over an extended length of time.
  • Beginning at a young age. Early-onset drinking increases the likelihood of developing alcohol misuse.
  • Family background. For those who have a parent who struggles with alcohol, the chance of developing alcohol misuse is increased. Genetic influences could have an impact on this.
  • Depression and associated issues with mental health. People who suffer from mental illnesses frequently struggle with alcoholism.
  • Traumatising past. A history of emotional trauma or other trauma increases the chance of developing alcohol misuse.


The severity of the alcohol misuse problem depends on how many symptoms you have. 

Some signs and symptoms are:

  • Not being able to limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Wishing to cut back on your drinking or making vain attempts to do so
  • Consuming alcohol frequently
  • Experiencing a strong desire or impulse to consume alcohol
  • Not being able to go to work and complete activities at home due to regular consumption of alcohol
  • Drinking alcohol while being aware that it's harming your health or other aspects of your life
  • Giving up or scaling back on hobbies, and employment to consume alcohol
  • Consuming alcohol in unsafe circumstances, such as when operating machinery or swimming
  • When you stop drinking, you may experience withdrawal symptoms including nausea, sweating, and shaking.

Alcohol intoxication episodes and withdrawal symptoms can be a part of alcohol misuse. 

Please consult a doctor for support and medical advice if you face any of these symptoms. 


Difficulties caused by drinking can be avoided with early intervention. Please look out for the following warning signs and symptoms:

  • A decline in interest in activities and appearance
  • Red eyes, slurred speech, issues with balance, and forgetfulness
  • Connections with friends that are changing, such as joining a new group of people
  • Recurring mood swings and defensiveness


Depending on your needs, there are several types of alcohol misuse treatments. A quick intervention, individual or group therapy, an outpatient programme, or a residential inpatient stay are some of the possible treatment options. The main therapeutic objective is to try to stop drinking in order to enhance the quality of life.

Alcohol misuse treatment options include:

  • Withdrawal and detox. A detoxification programme, or medically controlled withdrawal, may be used as the first step in treatment. 
  • Creating a treatment strategy with your doctor. Specialists in alcohol therapy are typically involved in this procedure. 
  • Counselling for mental health. Individual and group counselling and therapy can promote your recovery from the psychological effects of alcohol.
  • Medication that is taken orally. Although it won't treat alcohol misuse or stop the need to drink, the medication disulfiram may be able to help you abstain from alcohol. 
  • Prescription medicines. A medical expert will inject Vivitrol, a naltrexone derivative, once every month.

Complications of Alcohol Misuse

Your central nervous system is lowered when drinking alcohol. Some people may feel an increase in energy during the initial reaction. But as you consume more alcohol, you become groggy and lose control of your actions.

Alcohol consumption negatively impacts your speech, muscle control, and important brain regions. Even a coma or death could result from an excessive drinking binge. This is especially important to be aware of if you are also taking medications that affect how well your brain functions.

Please access medical assistance if you find yourself facing any of these symptoms or concerns due to excessive drinking.

There are also significant risks due to excessive drinking:

  • Accidents and illnesses that need to be treated at a hospital, such as a brain injury
  • Aggressive conduct and experiencing violence
  • Sexual activity without protection that may result in an unforeseen pregnancy or STDs
  • Loss of personal items like wallets, keys, or smartphones
  • Alcohol poisoning, which can result in vomiting, convulsions, and unconsciousness


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Page last reviewed: Mar 3, 2023

Next review due: Mar 3, 2025

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