What Is Alcohol?
What exactly is alcohol, and what makes this chemical substance intoxicating and habit-forming? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.”
When used in moderation and responsibly, alcohol is generally safe. Most people who use alcohol never develop an alcohol use disorder. A person might start to experience small personal consequences related to their alcohol use, and stop using alcohol abruptly until these consequences resolve. Others might begin to develop a physical tolerance over time and might start consuming alcohol in larger quantities as a result. Certain people are more susceptible to alcohol use disorders than others.
Risk factors include genetic predisposition, underlying mental health concerns, unresolved trauma, environmental factors, the amount of alcohol being consumed and the frequency of use, and the age the first drink was taken. People who begin drinking regularly before the age of 18 (while they are still developing) are more prone to alcoholism later on in life.