What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism combines all the behavioural symptoms of alcohol abuse with a physiological dependence. An alcoholic becomes physically dependent on alcohol. If someone needs alcohol to function or is physically compelled to drink then they could be described as being an alcoholic.

Alcoholism is characterized by an incessant craving for, increased tolerance of, physical dependence upon, and loss of control over drinking alcohol. Alcoholism is a progressive disease and, in some cases, has the potential to be fatal.

Physical dependency on alcohol may or may not be obvious to other people. While some chronic alcoholics exhibit physical drunkeness, others have learned to control and hide symptoms enough to be able to cope with everyday life in a near-normal way.

If not treated, longer term alcoholism often leads to a number of physical ailments such as: serious liver damage, brain & heart damage, high blood pressure, pneumonia, hypoglycemia, chronic gastritis, recurrent pancreatitis and tuberculosis.

The warning signs of alcoholism

1) Tolerance

If someone feels the need to drink more and more over time to get the same affect – this is a warning sign. If they find themselves able to drink substantially more than their peers, and don’t appear intoxicated, this is also sign that their tolerance is increasing.

2) Withdrawal

Drinking to relieve any of the following symptoms brought on by withdrawal from alcohol (particularly the morning after) is a clear warning sign;

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Headache, Sweating and Shakes
  • Diarrea, Nausea and Vomiting
  • Insomnia

In More Severe Cases:

  • Hallucinations and Fever
  • Seizures

3) Loss of control.

4) A desire to quit drinking, but attempts have been unsuccessful.

5) They spend majority of their day either planning a drink, recovering from a drink or taking a drink.