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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Alcoholism, Addiction

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Many times, determining whether someone is an actual alcoholic or not is really not all that important. If someone's drinking and drugging has advanced to the point to where it has become a problem for them and those around them, then it is a problem, period. If the person has tried to quit -- swore to themselves and others "never again!" -- and simply cannot stop, then chances are they have become dependent or addicted.
  1. What Is Alcoholism?
  2. Symptoms of Alcoholism
  3. Self-Assessment Quizzes
  4. Diagnostic Tests
  1. Diagnosing Alcoholism
  2. Is Alcoholism Inherited?
  3. What Is Drug Abuse?
  4. Commonly Abused Drugs

What Is Alcoholism?

Spilled Drink

Alcohol problems occur at different levels of severity, from mild and annoying to life-threatening. Although alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is the most severe problem, less severe drinking problems can also be dangerous. The term "alcoholism" refers to a disease known as alcohol dependence syndrome, the most severe stage of a range of drinking problems.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Beer Bottle

Alcoholism is called a progressive disease, meaning that over time the symptoms and effects of drinking alcohol become more intense and severe. The symptoms in the early stages differ from those during later stages as the disease progresses from binge drinking to alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence.

Self-Assessment Quizzes

Doctor's Clipboard

Alcoholism and addictions can develop so slowly and insidiously that you sometimes don't notice the effects that it has on your life and others around you. These self-assessment quizzes are designed to help you determine just how much you may have been affected and whether or not you need to seek help.

Diagnostic Tests

Doctor With Clipboard

Because alcoholics are likely to deny or minimize the amount of alcohol they consume, most alcohol screening tests ask questions about problems usually caused by excessive drinking, rather than ask about how much the person drinks. More and more short tests have been developed in recent years so they can be easily administered in busy healthcare settings.

Diagnosing Alcoholism

Doctor

Because one of the most common symptoms of alcoholism is denial, diagnosing alcoholism can be difficult -- the diagnosis depends on the individual's willingness to answer questions about their drinking honestly. Usually, the friends and family members closest to the drinker see the problem long before it is diagnosed in a medical setting.

Is Alcoholism Inherited?

Child's Eye

Alcoholism does tend to run in families, and scientific studies indicate that genetics play a role in a person's risk of developing alcohol problems. But research also shows that a individual's environment and peer influences also affect the risk of becoming alcoholic.

What Is Drug Abuse?

Needle

Generally, when most people talk about substance abuse, they are referring to the use of illegal drugs. But the broad range of substance abuse in today's society is not that simple. There are substances that can be abused for their mood-altering effects that are not drugs at all -- inhalants and solvents -- and there are drugs that can be abused that have few mood-altering or intoxication properties, such as anabolic steroids.

Commonly Abused Drugs

Pills

There are an estimated 15.9 million illicit drug users in the United States, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and that number does not count those who abuse prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, alcohol or other substances. These are some of the most commonly abused drugs.

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