Alcoholism — Get the Facts


We are not going to describe alcohol in this section, everyone knows what alcohol is, but the point here is that there is a difference between alcohol and alcoholism.

Alcohol is in bottles, alcoholism is in people. Nearly 90% ofpeople can drink alcohol safely with never a consequence in their life.

Early signs of alcoholism include frequent intoxication, an established pattern of heavy drinking and drinking in dangerous situations, such as when driving. Other early signs of alcoholism include black-out drinking or a drastic change in affect while drinking, such as consistently becoming angry or violent.


Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

The main symptom of alcohol abuse occurs when someone continues to drink after their drinking reaches a level that causes recurrent problems. Continuing to drink after it causes someone to miss work, drive drunk, shirk responsibilities or get in trouble with the law is considered alcohol abuse.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV, defines alcohol abuse as drinking despite alcohol-related physical, social, psychological, or occupational problems, or drinking in dangerous situations, such as while driving. The World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases refers to "harmful use" of alcohol, or drinking that causes either physical or mental damage in the absence of alcohol dependence. In other words, alcohol abuse is any harmful use of alcohol.


Symptoms of growing psychological dependence of alcohol

Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness

Feeling of shakiness


Irritability or easily excited

Emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes



Difficulty with thinking clearly

Bad dreams


Mild to moderate physical symptoms

Headache - general, pulsating

Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or the face

Nausea and Vomiting

Loss of appetite

Insomnia, sleeping difficulty


Rapid heart rate (palpitations)

Eyes, pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)

Skin, clammy

Abnormal movements

Tremor of the hands

Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids


Severe symptoms

A state of confusion and hallucinations, as D.T’s, Agitation, Fever, Convulsions,

"Black outs" -- when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode

For someone who is alcoholic or alcohol dependent, the symptoms include all of those associated with alcohol abuse, but what really defines alcoholism is that alcoholics will continue to drink in spite of all the problems it has caused in their lives.

When alcohol abuse reaches the alcohol dependence stage, the person also experiences at least three of seven other symptoms, including neglect of other activities, excessive use of alcohol, impaired control of alcohol consumption, persistence of alcohol use, large amounts of time spent in alcohol-related activities, withdrawal symptoms and tolerance of alcohol.


Treatment of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a treatable illness and many treatment programs and approaches are available to support alcoholics who have decided to get help, but no medical cure available.  Support through Alcoholics Anonymous is by far the single most effective way to stop drinking with over 3.5 million people sober worldwide through AA.