Alcohol abuse is any use of alcohol that negatively impacts personal responsibilities, whether at work, school or home, as defined by Psychology Today. Alcohol use is also considered abuse when it leads to people placing themselves in dangerous situations, such as driving or operating machinery under the influence. Legal problems due to alcohol are also characteristic of abuse, as is the continuation of drinking, despite its negative impact upon relationships.
Continued alcohol abuse can develop into alcoholism or alcohol dependence, according to Psychology Today. Alcoholism is particularly characterized by continued alcohol abuse despite the negative physical, mental and interpersonal consequences.