What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a long term chronic disease with no unique definition. It is a physical dependence coupled together with mental obsession. Alcoholism is an illness that may be defined as a compulsion and physical desire to consume alcohol beyond their capacity to control it.

Alcoholism vs Alcohol Abuse

Though alcoholism and alcohol abuse are forms of problem drinking, they are not the same. If a person drinks despite severe health, family and social problems, then it implies that he is affected by alcoholism. The physical addiction has reached a stage when the addict ignores all social and job responsibilities and alcohol starts controlling the addict’s life and relationships.

Alcohol abuse is not as severe a condition as alcoholism. Here the drinking may cause some problems, though it is not a physical addiction yet.

Causes Of Alcoholism

The cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism has not yet been found, though certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism.

Risks For Developing Alcoholism

Most young people especially adults under peer pressure, or those who are depressed with bipolar or anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia are likely candidates for developing alcoholism. Those who have low self-esteem, problematic relationships, lead a stressful life and have an easy access to alcohol fall in a high risk group for developing alcoholism.


Some of the common symptoms of this disease are drinking alone, becoming violent after consuming certain amount of alcohol, unable to stop drinking even during ill health, uncontrolled drinking and finding excuses to drink.

Driving Under Influence (DUI) vs Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

The terms DUI and DWI are serious crimes and are not just relate to driving after consuming alcohol but also drugs that include over the counter medication, or prescription drugs. DUI is a lesser charge signifying a lesser degree of intoxication determined by alcohol in the person’s blood level at the time of arrest. States like Virginia and New Jersey do not differentiate between a DUI and a DWI.

Tests To Determine Alcoholism

Since there are no standard tests to determine if a person is alcoholic a good questionnaire is the best way to find out. The increase in size of red blood cells could be an indication of long-term alcohol abuse. Carbohydrate-deficient transferring test helps detect heavy alcohol consumption. There are tests to check for liver damage and reduced testosterone levels.

Alcoholism Treatment

Some medications to prevent you from drinking again are Acamprosate which lowers relapse rates. Disulfiram produces very unpleasant side effects if you drink even a small amount of alcohol and Naltrexone decreases alcohol cravings. Apart from drugs a strong family support is important in achieving this.

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