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Most people who take a drink on a regular basis — a couple of glasses of wine at the end of the day or a few beers with pizza — rarely give it much thought. The American culture is saturated with advertising for alcohol and information that suggests that even a couple of glasses of alcohol a day is not necessarily a bad thing for your health. But what happens when those glasses of wine become four glasses, or six? What happens if you find yourself drinking alone, where you’re drinking purely for the effect and not for social reasons? When does alcohol use turn into alcohol abuse?

To figure out whether or not you have a problem, you might begin with a definition of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse may be thought of as a pattern of drinking which includes one or more of these situations over the period of one year: 1) Drinking in situations considered physically dangerous, such as operating a heavy machine or while driving a car; 2) failing to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home; 3) recurring legal problems related to alcohol, such as being arrested for drunk driving or for assaulting someone while drunk; and 4), continuing to drink regardless of how the effects of alcohol causes or worsens problems in an ongoing relationship.

You may wish to note that there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Not everyone who abuses alcohol or has a drinking problem is an alcoholic — there are, in fact, various degrees of alcohol problems. Yours might be a minor problem or a major one, depending upon how badly it affects the rest of your life and the people around you. Regardless, if you do have one or more of the above signs, it suggests that you need to re-examine your relationship with alcohol.

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