Alcoholism, also known as "alcohol dependence," is a disease that includes
alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related
problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It includes
Craving -- A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
Impaired control -- The inability to limit one's drinking on any given
Physical dependence -- Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating,
shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy
Tolerance -- The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to
feel its effects.
For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism
also have been developed. Such criteria are included in the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the
American Psychiatric Association, as well as in the International Classification
Diseases, published by the World Health Organization. (See also
Alcohol Alert No. 30:
Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.)
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