Alcoholism Law and Legal Definition

Alcoholism is an illness marked by consumption of alcoholic beverages at a level that interferes with physical or mental health, and social, family, or occupational responsibilities. Alcoholism is a type of addiction. There is both physical and psychological dependence with this addiction. Physical dependence manifests itself by withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake is interrupted, tolerance to the effects of alcohol, and presence of alcohol-associated illnesses.

Alcoholism is a major social, economic, and public health problem. Alcohol is involved in more than half of all accidental deaths and almost half of all traffic deaths. A high percentage of suicides involve the use of alcohol in combination with other substances. Additional deaths are related to the long-term medical complications associated with the disease.

Some of the symptoms associated with alcoholism include

  • Solitary drinking
  • Making excuses to drink
  • Need for daily or frequent use of alcohol for adequate function
  • Lack of control over drinking, with inability to discontinue or reduce alcohol intake
  • Episodes of violence associated with drinking
  • Secretive behavior to hide alcohol related behavior
  • Hostility when confronted about drinking
  • Neglect of food intake
  • Neglect of physical appearance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking in the morning
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Confusion

Symptoms may vary.

While alcoholism is a treatable disease, a cure is not yet available. That means that even if an alcoholic has been sober for a long while and has regained health, he or she remains susceptible to relapse and must continue to avoid all alcoholic beverages. “Cutting down” on drinking doesn't work; cutting out alcohol is necessary for a successful recovery.