Alcoholism is an illness marked by drinking alcoholic beverages at a level that interferes with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or occupational responsibilities.
Alcoholism is divided into 2 categories: dependence and abuse.
People with alcohol dependence, the most severe alcohol disorder, usually experience tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or the desired effect. Withdrawal occurs when alcohol is discontinued or intake is decreased. Alcohol dependents spend a great deal of time drinking alcohol, and obtaining it.
Alcohol abusers may have legal problems such as drinking and driving. They may also have problems with binge drinking (drinking 6 or more drinks at one sitting).
People who are dependent on or abuse alcohol continue to drink it despite evidence of physical or psychological problems. Those with dependence have more severe problems and a greater compulsion to drink.
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