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Is alcoholism a disease?

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Quick Answer

Mayo Clinic notes that alcoholism is a serious, chronic disease characterized by negative medical, social and personal consequences caused by an inability to control intake. The condition is influenced by genetics, social pressure and other environmental factors and an ever-increasing physical dependence on alcohol.

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Full Answer

As with most other diseases, alcoholism presents as a collection of symptoms. No single symptom is sufficient to diagnose alcoholism, but the existence of any of its symptoms is cause for concern. Symptoms of alcoholism include habitual drinking; binge drinking; drinking until blackout occurs; lost time; and mounting problems with finances, relationships and the law. Mayo Clinic reports that denial is also a common symptom of addiction disorders such as alcoholism and recommends that patients consult a doctor if concerns have been raised about their alcohol intake, whether the patient believes alcoholism is present or not. Alcoholism is not curable, but its progression can often be managed via medication and behavioral modification approaches such as Alcoholics Anonymous-style 12-step programs and other group-oriented therapeutic methods.

According to a press release from the National Institutes of Health, treatment for alcoholism is often effective. Over one-third of alcoholics are in full remission, and many show no signs of dependence or current abuse.

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