Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences. It is differentiated from alcohol dependence by the lack of symptoms such as tolerance and withdrawal. Alcohol abuse is sometimes referred to by the less specific term alcoholism. However, many definitions of alcoholism exist, and only some are compatible with alcohol abuse.
About 18% of American adults have had an alcohol abuse problem at some time in their life, in addition to about 12% who have also had an alcohol dependence problem. Significant correlations exist between alcohol abuse and other substance abuse disorders.