Abusing alcohol means continuing to drink even though you know your drinking is causing problems, according to WebMD. These problems could be anything from fighting with your significant other at dinner over your rate of drinking or missing a day at your new sales job to driving under the influence and maybe ending up in an accident with tragic consequences. Alcohol abusers usually can't stop drinking or control the amount they imbibe, and they develop a tolerance for alcohol — meaning that they have to drink more to achieve the same level of inebriation they used to get from a smaller quantity. When alcohol abusers do stop, feelings like nausea, shakiness, and anxiety are common. (If you or someone you know is trying to do something about a possible drinking problem, Alcoholics Anonymous is a good resource.)
Alcoholism is a long-term disease influenced by genes and lifestyle with predictable symptoms, and according to the World Health Organization, many of the world’s countries have a significant percentage of people with drinking problems.
In the U.S. alone, death from alcohol-related causes is the third leading preventable cause of death. In 2013, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported engaging in binge drinking in the previous month. And in 2006, alcohol misuse problems cost the country $223.5 billion – almost three-quarters of which was reportedly related to binge drinking.
But the U.S. isn't really so bad in this regard. In a global roundup of countries with prevalence of alcohol use disorders conducted by the WHO in 2004 — the most recent year for which statistics are available — the U.S. was ranked #48. Interestingly, Italy and Iran recorded the same percentage of males with alcohol abuse problems (0.5) even though alcohol is illegal in the latter. Three countries in the South Pacific — Samoa, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, report no alcohol abuse issues at all — which is curious because another South Pacific nation, tiny Niue, is in the top ten for abuse problems.
Here’s a roundup of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of alcohol use disorders in adult males and females ages 15 and up, according to the WHO. The percentage rate for males with alcohol use disorders is generally much higher than that for women – according to the CDC, men are more likely than women to drink excessively and pursue other risky behaviors when combined with excessive drinking.