Alcohol dependence; Alcohol abuse
Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, and often fatal disease. It is a primary disorder and not a symptom of other diseases or emotional problems. The chemistry of alcohol allows it to affect nearly every type of cell in the body, including those in the central nervous system. After prolonged exposure to alcohol, the brain becomes dependent on it. The severity of this disease is influenced by factors such as genetics, psychology, culture, and response to physical pain.
Alcoholism, alcohol dependence, and alcohol abuse are associated with the following:
Alcoholism can develop insidiously, and often there is no clear line between problem drinking and alcoholism. Eventually alcohol dominates thinking, emotions, and actions and becomes the primary means through which a person can deal with people, work, and life.
In addition to alcohol dependence, alcohol use is defined by levels of harm that it may be causing. This information is useful to determine possible interventions at earlier stages. The following categories of alcohol use and abuse use a definition of one drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces (a jigger) of 90-proof liquor.
Moderate Drinking. Moderate drinking, particularly red wine, appears to offer health benefits. Moderate drinking is defined as equal to or less than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
Hazardous (Heavy) Drinking. Hazardous drinking puts people at risk for adverse health events. People who are heavy drinkers consume:
Harmful Drinking. Drinking is considered harmful when alcohol consumption has actually caused physical or psychological harm. This is determined by:
Certain people are at much higher risk for harmful drinking, such as older individuals with high blood pressure or those taking medications for arthritis or pain.
Alcohol Abuse. People with alcohol abuse have one or more of the following alcohol-related problems over a period of 1 year:
Alcohol Dependence. People who are alcohol dependent have three or more of the following alcohol-related problems over a year:
Two-thirds of those with alcohol dependence continued to be dependent on alcohol after 5 years.
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