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What is Alcoholism?

In 1957, the American Medical Society determined that alcoholism is a disease. In 1990, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and the American Society of Addiction Medicine issued a definition of alcoholism:

Alcoholism is a primary disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, the most notable being denial of a problem.

Alcohol Dependency is characterized by the following elements:
Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink
Loss of Control: The frequent inability to stop drinking once a person has begun.
Physical Dependence: The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking. These symptoms are usually relieved by drinking alcohol or by taking another sedative drug.
Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get “high.”

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