Alcohol Addiction: A destructive pattern of alcohol use, leading to significant social, occupational, or medical impairment.
1. Alcohol tolerance: Either need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication, or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
2. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms: Two (or more) of the following, developing within several hours to a few days of reduction in heavy or prolonged alcohol use:
- Sweating or Rapid Pulse
- Increased Hand Tremor
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Physical Agitation
- Transient Visual, Tactile or Auditory Hallucinations or Illusions
- Grand Mal Seizures
3. Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
4. Alcohol was often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
5. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use
6. Great deal of time spent in using alcohol, or recovering from hangovers
7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been worsened by alcohol (e.g., continued drinking despite knowing that an ulcer was made worse by drinking alcohol)
Tolerance and Dependence :
People who drink on a regular basis become tolerant to many of the unpleasant effects of alcohol, and thus are able to drink more before suffering these effects. Yet even with increased consumption, many such drinkers don't appear intoxicated. Because they continue to work and socialize reasonably well, their deteriorating physical condition may go unrecognized by others until severe damage develops - or until they are hospitalized for other reasons and suddenly experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Psychological dependence on alcohol may occur with regular use of even relatively moderate daily amounts. It may also occur in people who consume alcohol only under certain conditions, such as before and during social occasions. This form of dependence refers to a craving for alcohol's psychological effects, although not necessarily in amounts that produce serious intoxication. For psychologically dependent drinkers, the lack of alcohol tends to make them anxious and, in some cases, panicky.
Physical dependence occurs in consistently heavy drinkers. Since their bodies have adapted to the presence of alcohol, they suffer withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms range from jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the "shakes"), convulsions. hallucinations. and sometimes death.