Alcohol abuse is a common problem. In the United States, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 29% of women and 43% of men age 18 or older have had at least one episode of binge drinking in the past year. (Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks within a 2-hour period for a woman, or 5 or more drinks for a man.) Some people abuse alcohol on a more regular basis. Generally, most medical experts consider advisable limits on drinking to be 2 or less drinks per day for a man, and 1 drink for a woman. A drink is defined as the amount of alcohol in a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a shot of hard alcohol.
Alcohol abuse is associated with a number of medical illnesses including chronic liver disease, acute and chronic pancreatitis, dementia, and several types of cancer. Those who abuse alcohol are also at higher risk of accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, and suicide. One of the best support organizations for those who abuse alcohol is Alcoholics Anonymous. Founded in 1935, this organization now includes nearly 60,000 local groups and approximately 1.3 million members in the US.