Epidemiology of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is one of the commonest (and there is no second opinion in this regard) substance abuse disorders and substance abuse disorders are major public health problem in many countries. The substance abuse disorders are more common in developed and underdeveloped (poor) nations. The developing countries have comparatively lesser problem of substance abuse, but in most developing countries also it is a major public health problem.

It is estimated that in the United States more than 10% (approximately 12%) adults suffer from alcohol dependency syndrome at some point in their life. In England (United Kingdom) the number of individuals with alcohol dependence (also called dependent drinkers) is estimated to be approximately 3 million and the number is increasing, unfortunately. According to a conservative estimate by WHO (World Health Organization) there are more than 140 million individuals (drinkers) who are dependent to alcohol, throughout the world. WHO also estimates that in United States and most European countries (the Western European countries mainly) have 10% to 20% of men and 5% to 10% of women meet the criteria for alcoholism at some point of their life.

Most medical communities consider alcohol as a drug of abuse. Like all drugs of abuse, alcohol satisfies the definition of drug abuse or drug addiction. The definition of drug abuse states that, drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing central nervous system disease, which is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use of the abused drug.

In general alcohol abuse is more common among men, in compare to women. But in recent years, the difference is reducing and more women are drinking excessively and becoming alcoholics.

Men can tolerate alcohol better than women, i.e. the male liver can handle alcohol better than female liver (liver is the organ where alcohol is metabolized). In another word, same quantity of alcohol can have more deleterious effect in female than male of same body weight and age. Women also get intoxicated with lower quantity of alcohol in compare to men.

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2 Comments

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