Alcoholism Addiction

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  October 14 ,
| 4 Sources

Nearly 17.6 million adults in the United States have an alcoholism addiction. Alcohol addiction is considered to be a disease, like any other medical problem.

This disease has four components:

  1. Craving - a strong urge to drink.
  2. Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you start.
  3. Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms occur if you stop drinking, such as nausea, shakiness, sweating, and anxiety.
  4. Tolerance - it begins to take more and more alcohol to get the same “high”.

Alcoholism addiction has many health risks, including stomach ulcers, liver damage, pancreas damage, and brain damage. It can also cause birth defects. Alcoholics are also more likely to be involved in car accidents and in accidents at work.

There is believed to be a hereditary or genetic component to alcohol addiction, but having an alcoholic parent does not guarantee you will become an alcoholic. Likewise, you may become an alcoholic even if your parents were not alcoholics.

Is Alcohol a Problem for You?

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?
  2. Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
  3. Do you ever feel annoyed by people’s criticism about your drinking?
  4. Do you sometimes feel you need a drink to “get you going” in the morning?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might have a drinking problem.

How is Alcoholism Addiction Treated?

Treatment depends on the severity of the alcohol addiction. If you think you might have an alcohol problem, you should see an addictions specialist for an assessment. You can contact a drug and alcohol treatment center near you or ask your doctor for a referral.

The addictions specialist will evaluate you to determine the extent of your problem and what level of treatment is most appropriate for you.

Some people require inpatient or residential treatment. This is especially the case for heavy drinkers that need to detox. Inpatient stays are often for 21 – 28 days, but may be shorter or longer depending on the need.

Other people are able to attend an intensive outpatient program. They go to an alcoholism addiction treatment program for several hours a day, several days a week. They are able to remain at home, however.

And some people are able to see a counselor once a week and attend a couple of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings, and that’s all they need. Again, an addictions specialist can help you determine the level of treatment that will best meet your needs.

Is Alcoholism Curable?

Not really. People with an alcohol addiction are always believed to have that addiction. Alcoholics who have stopped drinking are said to be “in recovery,” not recovered. They are advised never to drink again, not even in moderation; it is believed that if they begin drinking again, they will quickly lose control and develop the same problems they had in the past or worse.

Relapse is common among people with an alcoholism addiction. However, there is good treatment available and those with alcohol addiction can make it to the recovery process if they persevere.

More than alcoholism addiction on our alcoholism signs page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More