Alcoholism is the most serious form of problem drinking and describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink. Sufferers of alcoholism will often place drinking above all other obligations, including work and family, and may build up a physical tolerance or experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop.
Alcoholism is sometimes known as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence. It’s slightly different to ‘harmful drinking’ which is an occasional pattern of drinking which can cause damage to your health.
An example of harmful drinking is drinking too much at a party and risking a fall or argument. This pattern may develop into alcoholism if that kind of harmful drinking becomes a habit and happens on a regular basis.
To be diagnosed as an alcohol-dependent person, three of the following (DSM 5) criterion need to be fulfilled;
- High level of tolerance, they need to drink more to obtain the same effect;
- Use and abuse of alcohol for longer and with larger quantities than planned;
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit;
- Unsuccessful attempts at reducing use;
- Most of the time is spent drinking, procuring drink or recovering from heavy use;
- Relationship and human bonds are sacrificed in favour of drinking.
- Alcohol abuse continues, despite realising that it is harmful to the body.
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