alcohol dependence

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Syn: alcohol addiction, alcoholism. Physiological and/or psychological dependence upon alcohol consumption, in which the affected person cannot function effectively without recourse to alcohol and experiences withdrawal symptoms when denied access to alcohol. The features include a daily alcohol intake equivalent to 75 grams or more, morning drinking, deterioration of ability to perform usual work, and, in advanced stages, neurological impairment, memory loss, hepatic cirrhosis, vitamin deficiencies such as of thiamine (caused when alcohol replaces balanced nutritional intake), and often downward social mobility. There are associated psychosocial consequences, including loss of job, domestic violence, family breakup. There is controversy about the nature of alcohol dependence: is it inherited or acquired, a psychiatric disturbance, a metabolic dependency, a consequence of habituation, a response to environmental stresses and stimuli? It sometimes appears to have characteristics of all of these.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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