Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol. Alcohol dependence is a disease that develops when a person’s alcohol consumption causes physical or mental health problems, or interferes with responsibilities to friends, family and employers.
Signs of alcoholism include the following:
- A strong urge to drink
- Not being able to stop drinking
- Withdrawal symptoms after stopping (for example, nausea, sweating and anxiety)
- The need to drink increasingly larger amounts of alcohol
- Binge drinking, or drinking five or more drinks at one time
Alcoholism: what you should know
- If you’re the child of an alcoholic, you’re about four times more likely than the general population to develop alcohol problems.
Drinking more than a moderate amount can be a sign of alcoholism. Moderate drinking is defined as the following:
- For men: no more than four alcoholic drinks on any one day and no more than 14 drinks per week
- For women: no more than three drinks on any one day and no more than seven drinks per week
- Alcohol abuse can damage the liver, brain and other organs. Women who drink while pregnant run the risk of harming their babies.
How can I get help for alcoholism?
If you think you or a loved one may be an alcoholic, talk with your primary care doctor for treatment and referral options. As a supplement to medical help, many people also find it helpful to attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.