What is alcoholism?

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.
Tolerance- the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high


 A disease?

Yes, alcoholism is a disease. The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems. 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.


Can be cured?

No, alcoholism cannot be cured at this time. Even if an alcoholic hasn't been drinking for a long time, he or she can still suffer a relapse . Not drinking is the safest course for most people with alcoholism.


Can be treated?

Yes, alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Treatment has helped many people stop drinking and rebuild their lives.


How can you tell if someone has a problem?

Answering the following four questions can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem:
• Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
• Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
• Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
• Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
One "yes" answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one "yes" answers means it is highly likely that a problem exists. If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.



What is a safe level of drinking?

For most adults, moderate alcohol use—up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people—causes few if any problems. (One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

Certain people should not drink at all, however:
• Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
• People who plan to drive or engage in other activities that require alertness and skill (such as driving a car)
• People taking certain over the counter or prescription medications
• People with medical conditions that can be made worse by drinking
• Recovering alcoholics
• People younger than age 21.


Is alcohol good for your heart?

Studies have shown that moderate drinkers are less likely to die from one form of heart disease than are people who do not drink any alcohol or who drink more.
If you are a nondrinker, however, you should not start drinking solely to benefit your heart.
You can guard against heart disease by exercising and eating foods that are low in fat.
And if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, have been diagnosed as alcoholic, or have another medical condition that could make alcohol use harmful, you should not drink.
If you can safely drink alcohol and you choose to drink, do so in moderation.
Heavy drinking can actually increase the risk of heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure, as well as cause many other medical problems, such as liver cirrhosis.


When taking medications, must you stop drinking?

Possibly. More than 150 medications interact harmfully with alcohol. These interactions may result in increased risk of illness, injury, and even death. Alcohol's effects are heightened by medicines that depress the central nervous system, such as sleeping pills, antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and some painkillers. In addition, medicines for certain disorders, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, can have harmful interactions with alcohol. If you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol.