Alcohol use and abuse

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disease that includes the following four symptoms: craving--a strong need, or urge, to drink; loss of control--not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun; physical dependence--withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking; and tolerance--the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high." For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism have been developed. Like many other diseases, alcoholism is chronic, meaning that it lasts a person's lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person's genes and by his or her lifestyle.

People related to the topic: Alcohol use and abuse

Peter Martin, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pharmacology; Director, Vanderbilt Addiction Center

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