Skip to Content

Abuse Of Alcohol


  • Alcohol abuse is unhealthy drinking behavior. You may drink too much at one time once a week, or continue to drink too much daily. You continue to drink even though it causes problems. The problems can be alcohol related legal problems, or problems with work or relationships with family.
  • If you drink too much at one time, you are binge drinking. Binge drinking is when you have a large amount of alcohol in a short time. Your blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) goes above 0.08 g/dLlevel during binge drinking. For men, this usually happens with more than 4 drinks in 2 hours. For women, it is more than 3 drinks in 2 hours. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.
  • You have a seizure or have shaking or trembling.
  • You were in an accident because of alcohol.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You want to harm yourself or others.
  • You have hallucinations (you see or hear things that are not real).
  • You cannot stop vomiting or you vomit blood.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You need help to stop drinking alcohol.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Vitamin supplements may be given to treat low vitamin levels. Alcohol can make it hard for your body to absorb enough vitamins such as B1. Vitamin supplements may also be given to prevent alcohol related brain damage.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Treatments or therapies you may need:

  • Detoxification (detox) and withdrawal is a program that helps you to safely get alcohol out of your body. Detox can also help get rid of the physical need to drink. Healthcare providers monitor the physical symptoms of withdrawal. They may give you medicines to help decrease nausea, dehydration, and seizures. Healthcare providers will also monitor your blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, and your temperature. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are also monitored and managed during detox. Healthcare providers may give you medicines for these symptoms and therapy sessions will be available to you. Detox is usually done at a detox center or in a hospital. Healthcare providers do not recommend that you try to detox at home or by yourself. Withdrawal symptoms may become life-threatening. The center can help you find 12 step programs or an individual therapist to help with emotional support after detox.
  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment focus on your personal needs to help you stop drinking. Treatment helps you understand the reasons you abuse alcohol. Counselors and therapists provide you with support and help you find ways to cope instead of drinking. You may need inpatient treatment to provide a controlled environment. You may need outpatient treatment after your inpatient treatment is complete.
  • Alcohol aversion therapy takes away the desire to drink by causing a negative reaction when you drink. Healthcare providers may give you medicines that cause nausea and vomiting when you drink alcohol. They may instead give you a medicine that decreases your urge to drink alcohol. These medicines are used to help you stop drinking or reduce the amount you drink. They can also help you avoid relapse.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Avoid alcohol:

You should stop drinking entirely. Alcohol can damage your brain, heart, and liver. It also increases your risk for injury, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Alcohol is dangerous when you combine it with certain medicines.

Do not drive if you have had alcohol:

Make sure someone who has not been drinking can help you get home.

Get support:

Most people need support to stop drinking alcohol. Mental health providers, support groups, rehabilitation centers, and your healthcare provider can provide support.

For more information:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
    Web Address:
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Web Address:

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Abuse Of Alcohol (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes