Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. For a regular drinker, the need to suddenly stop drinking is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.
Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities, and alcohol consumption is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics themselves.