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Alcohol & Health: Friend or Foe

Alcohol has somehow managed to take a significant place in our society. Primarily in the form of ethyl alcohol (ethanol), it has occupied an important place in the history of humankind for at least 8,000 years. In most Western societies, at least 90% of people consume alcohol at some time during their lives, and 30% or more of drinkers develop alcohol-related problems. Severe alcohol-related life impairment, alcohol dependence (alcoholism), is observed at some time during their lives in about 10% of men and 3-5% of women. An additional 5-10% of each sex develops persistent, but less intense, problems that are diagnosed as alcohol abuse. Here are a few helpful definitions:

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