Alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that doctors can diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder. This disorder is classified as either alcohol dependence (better known as alcoholism) or alcohol abuse.
People who abuse alcohol may not fulfill responsibilities at home, work or school, because of their drinking. They may also put themselves in dangerous situations (like driving under the influence), have legal issues (such as arrests) or social problems (arguments with friends, coworkers and/or family members) due to their drinking.