- Physical dependence on alcohol to the extent that stopping alcohol use will bring on withdrawal symptoms. In popular and therapeutic parlance, the term may also be used to refer to ingrained drinking habits that cause health or social problems. Treatment requires first ending the physical dependence, then making lifestyle changes that help the individual avoid relapse. In some cases, medication or hospitalization are needed. Alcohol dependence can have many serious effects on the brain, liver, and other organs of the body.
* * *Chronic alcohol abuse, dependence, or addiction; chronic excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages resulting in impairment of health and/or social or occupational functioning, and increasing adaptation to the effects of alcohol requiring increasing doses to achieve and sustain a desired effect; specific signs and symptoms of withdrawal usually are shown upon sudden cessation of such drinking. SYN: alcohol addiction.- acute a. a temporary deterioration in mental function, accompanied by muscular incoordination and paresis, induced by the rapid ingestion of alcoholic beverages. SYN: intoxication (2).- chronic a. a pathologic condition, affecting chiefly the nervous and gastroenteric systems, associated with impairment in social and occupational functioning, caused by the habitual use of alcoholic beverages in toxic amounts.
* * *al·co·hol·ism 'al-kə-.hȯ-.liz-əm, -kə-hə- n1) continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks2 a) poisoning by alcoholb) a chronic progressive potentially fatal psychological and nutritional disorder associated with excessive and usu. compulsive drinking of ethanol and characterized by frequent intoxication leading to dependence on or addiction to the substance, impairment of the ability to work and socialize, destructive behaviors (as drunken driving), tissue damage (as cirrhosis of the liver), and severe withdrawal symptoms upon detoxification
* * *n.the syndrome due to physical dependence on alcohol, such that sudden deprivation may cause withdrawal symptoms - tremor, anxiety, hallucinations, and delusions (see delirium tremens). The risk of alcoholism for an individual and its incidence in a society depend on the amount drunk. Countries such as France, where heavy drinking is socially acceptable, have the highest incidence. Usually several years' heavy drinking is needed for addiction to develop, but the range is from one to 40 years. Alcoholism impairs intellectual function, physical skills, memory, and judgment: social skills, such as conversation, are preserved until a late stage. Heavy consumption of alcohol also causes cardiomyopathy, peripheral neuritis, cirrhosis of the liver, and enteritis. Treatment is usually given in a psychiatric hospital, where the alcoholic is first 'dried out' and then helped to understand the psychological pressures that led to his heavy drinking. Drugs such as disulfiram (Antabuse), which cause vomiting if alcohol is taken, may help in treatment.
* * *al·co·hol·ism (alґkə-hol-iz-əm) a disorder characterized by a pathological pattern of alcohol use that causes a serious impairment in social or occupational functioning. In DSM-IV it is covered by alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
Medical dictionary. 2011.