A disorder characterized by a compulsive and uncontrollable heavy use of alcohol and as a result seriously impairing health, social or occupational functioning


Alcoholism is a disorder affecting individuals who are unable to control the heavy use of alcohol, such as in the form of alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, wine, and liquors). Individuals who are suffering from this disorder are described as alcoholic. Because of alcoholism, these individuals suffer from serious impairment in health, social or occupational functioning. An alcoholic person is one who drinks large amounts for a prolonged period, feels a compulsive need for an alcohol, cannot cut down on drinking alcohol, fails to function responsibly and socially, suffers from alcoholic health problems, has alcohol tolerance, and/or has withdrawal when stopping.

Alcoholism is found to affect the body especially brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. Diseases associated with alcoholism include liver failure, mental illnesses, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, memory blackouts, etc. Alcoholism is said to reduce life expectancy by about ten years.1 Consumption of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy has resulted to fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects.


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Related term(s):

1 Schuckit, M. A. (2014). "Recognition and management of withdrawal delirium (delirium tremens)". The New England journal of medicine 371(22): 2109–13.

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