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Alcoholism, alcohol misuse, and alcohol dependence

Drinking alcohol is a culturally accepted practice in many families and traditions around the world. Alcoholism, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are all terms related to the serious problem of excessive drinking that leads to negative health and social effects. Chemically called ethanol, alcohol has been used since ancient times.

The most popular use of alcohol around the world is as a beverage by adult humans for recreational purposes. Alcohol causes intoxication when consumed in excess. The typical effects of high amounts of alcohol on the body are central nervous system depression, which produces excessive pleasure, decreases anxiety, increases sociability, and impairs cognitive, memory, and motor functions.

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harmful drinking of alcohol

Abuse of alcohol on special occasions for the purpose of celebration is the deliberate, excessive and harmful drinking of alcohol. This category includes heavy drinkers who drink heavily at social gatherings such as weddings. Such drinkers are at risk of having an accident or getting into an argument or argument, and become addicted to alcohol when their enjoyment exceeds the limit.
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Alcohol miuse is the consumption of:


For women who consume more than 3 to 4 pegs in a single sitting and for men who drink more than 4 to 5 pegs in a single sitting.

a 12-ounce bottle of wine or beer, or
one 5-ounce glass of wine, or
1.5 oz wine.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse refers to drinking “too much, too often.” It affects a person’s work, family and social life, and yet the person continues with it. Frequent drinking of alcohol at work or while driving, and therefore becomes a physical hazard. This stage is the initial stage of alcoholism disorder.

Alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction is a primary condition where there is an increasing inability to stop consuming alcohol despite knowledge of its negative effects.

People who are addicted to alcohol display a very strong desire to drink alcohol. Their uncontrollable urge to drink transcends their self-imposed limits and eliminates other family or work-related obligations. Their bodies soon develop a physical tolerance for it, or they go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop.

They also require more and more drinks to bring the same effect. These symptoms mark the beginning of physical dependence on alcohol.

Alcohol dependence

Long-term alcohol consumption leads to alcohol dependence. It is the inability to quit alcohol and is the most severe form of alcohol addiction. Also known as alcoholism, the person is mentally and physically dependent on alcohol and feels that he should only drink to move forward.

It is no longer a weakness but becomes a chronic progressive disease characterized by periods with characteristic symptoms. It can also be fatal.

Dependence is not easily recognized because individuals hide their weakness for alcohol. Although some visible symptoms are reliable indicators of this disease.
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Alcohol dependent person


  • Shows disinterest in routine activities;
  • appears tired, sick, or irritable;
  • appears to be intoxicated more often;
  • need to drink more than usual to get the same results;
  • becomes dishonest and secretive;
  • Even though alcohol is harmful, it is not able to say no to alcohol.
  • Alcoholism is a disease that results from environmental, genetic and psychosocial factors and may exhibit any or all of the above symptoms.


Most cases of alcohol dependence appear to be genetically predisposed to the disease, although it can be remedied. Alcoholism requires proper treatment and medical consultation to eliminate the habit of drinking alcohol and lead a healthy life. The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcoholism (NIAA) reports four main symptoms that characterize dependence:

  • Ambition
  • lose control
  • Physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms of nausea, sweating and vomiting).
  • Tolerance (a person will need more alcohol to satisfy their craving and get drunk).

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Safe drink

A daily rather than a weekly limit is suggested. Drinking small amounts of alcohol per day is considered safer than binge drinking on special occasions or on weekends.

Guidelines from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers suggest 14 pints (2 cups) a week as a safe level of consumption, with each drink containing about 14 grams of pure alcohol.

Moderate drinking brings health benefits which are

  • Psychological stress reduction
  • Reduction in the risk of cardiovascular-coronary artery disease
  • Increased appetite – especially in the elderly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services define moderate drinking as:

One drink a day for women and those over 60

Two drinks per day for men (only one per hour).
 

     Extensive research is ongoing by government bodies and medical and research scientists to help individuals overcome the problem of alcohol addiction. New treatment options are emerging for victims in de-addiction and rehabilitation centers. 

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