Excessive habitual consumption of alcoholic beverages despite physical, mental, social, or economic harm (e.g., cirrhosis, drunk driving and accidents, family strife, frequently missing work). Persons who drink large amounts of alcohol over time become tolerant to its effects. Alcoholism is usually considered an addiction and a disease. The causes are unclear, but there may be a genetic predisposition. It is more common in men, but women are more likely to hide it. Treatment may be physiological (with drugs that cause vomiting and a feeling of panic when alcohol is consumed; not an effective long-term treatment), psychological (with therapy and rehabilitation), or social (with group therapies). Group therapies such as Alcoholics Anonymous are the most effective treatments. Suddenly stopping heavy drinking can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including delirium tremens.
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Alcohol abuse, as described in the DSM-IV, is a psychiatric diagnosis describing the use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences. It is differentiated from alcohol dependence by the lack of symptoms such as tolerance and withdrawal. Alcohol abuse is sometimes referred to by the less specific term alcoholism. However, many definitions of alcoholism exist, and only some are compatible with alcohol abuse.
There are currently approximately 9 million alcoholics in the United States alone, with comparable numbers in other countries. According to Max Fisher, the author of How I Stopped Drinking, there is little if any difference between the terms alcohol abuse, alcoholic, and alcoholism. Or, significant correlations exist between alcohol abuse and other substance abuse disorders.
Treatment can vary for Alcohol Abuse but there are many programs that exist from prevention to age and gender specific rehab centers. Many times there are abuse issues associated with alcoholism and group treatment entirely composed of women, for example, can help tend to issues surrounding male abusers. Rehabilitation centers are recommended for detoxification as there can be serious physical effects, including death, if treated improperly.