Alcohol abuse is problem drinking that negatively impacts your life.

Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a problem pattern of drinking where you can have the same issues as alcohol abuse. Alcoholism also includes continued drinking even when there are clear problems related to alcohol that affect your physical and mental health.

The cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism is unknown. The genes that you inherit from your family and the environment that you live in may both play a role in developing an alcohol disorder.