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What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is defined by one having of two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty limiting alcohol consumption
  • Drinking large amounts over an extended period of time
  • Amount of time spent obtaining and using alcohol
  • Craving alcohol
  • Not fulfilling responsibilities due to alcohol
  • Experiencing health problems due to alcohol
  • Experiencing social problems due to alcohol
  • Drinking in risky situations
  • Building up a tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after an extended of period of time without alcohol

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is characterized by the continued use of alcohol despite the negative consequences. Previously used just as a medical term, alcohol abuse was reclassified in 2013 as an alcohol use disorder. A wide array of behaviors are linked to alcohol abuse, including binge drinking and long-term heavy drinking. Not only does alcohol abuse lead to health and social problems, long-term use is also associated with depression and suicide.

Binge drinking is a particular form of alcohol abuse that involves the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. In the United States, binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four standard units of alcohol for women and five units for men. Binge drinking is often connected to drink driving, violence, injuries, legal problems and a wide range of adverse health and social difficulties.

What is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence involves a physical need while addiction is the psychological aspect that makes a heavy user crave alcohol. Dependence is typically attributed to tolerance and the existence of a withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal symptoms with alcohol include:

  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Transient hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Tonic-clonic seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Autonomic instability