1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

What Do We Mean By Alcoholism?


Updated May 22, 2014

What Do We Mean By Alcoholism?
Question: What Do We Mean By Alcoholism?
Answer: Alcoholism, also known as "alcohol dependence," is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It includes four symptoms:

    Craving -- A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.

    Impaired control -- The inability to limit one's drinking on any given occasion.

    Physical dependence -- Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.

    Tolerance -- The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects.

For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism also have been developed. Such criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as in the International Classification Diseases, published by the World Health Organization. (See also Alcohol Alert No. 30: Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.)

Back to: Alcoholism FAQ

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Alcoholism
  4. Alcoholism 101
  5. What Do We Mean By Alcoholism?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.