Nearly 18 million adults in the USA are considered alcoholics or have an alcohol problem. Alcoholism is a disease. There are four main features that classify this condition:
- Craving: a strong need to drink
- Loss of control: not being able to stop drinking once you’ve begun
- Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
- Tolerance: the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get “high”
Alcoholism carries many serious dangers. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain and other organs. It can cause birth defects. It increases the risk of death from car crashes and other injuries as well as the risk of homicide and suicide.
Information courtesy of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism