Alcoholism is a disease that includes the following four symptoms:
- Craving – Having a strong need, or compulsion to drink.
- Loss of control – Being unable to limit one’s drinking in any given situation.
- Physical dependence – Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
- Tolerance – Having to drink greater amounts of alcohol to “get high”.
Although some people are able to recover from alcoholism without help, most need professional assistance plus family support. With treatment and support, many affected individuals are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.
Many people wonder why some people can drink more than the usual amount of alcohol without developing problems, while others cannot. One key reason is genetics. In other words, if a person has a family member who has or had alcoholism, it’s more likely that he or she may also develop alcoholism. For more information about alcohol abuse or alcoholism visit our section on Substance Abuse.