The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
February 2012

The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a division of the United States Department of Heath and Human Services, defines Alcoholism as a disease that has four symptoms: a strong craving for alcohol, a loss of control over drinking alcohol once drinking has begun, a physical dependence on alcohol that can result in physical withdrawal symptoms if drinking is stopped, and an increased tolerance of alcohol so that more and more is required to receive the same effect.

In the United States, about 1 in every 12 people abuse or are dependent on Alcohol.  On average, men more than women tend to be alcoholic and rates are highest between the ages of 18-29.

Alcoholism is considered a chronic disease in that it can’t be cured and it lasts a lifetime. Treatments programs include detoxification and counseling centers, medication, and self-help programs. There are some medications that are used to treat dependence or withdrawal symptoms.

The longer someone abstains from alcohol, the likelier the alcoholic will avoid relapse and stay sober. While some people can cut back on their drinking and drink moderately (two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women), for recovering alcoholics NIAAA recommends complete abstinence from alcohol as the safest course.

For more information, the NIAAA suggests The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service toll-free number (1-800-662-HELP) and also a link to Alcoholics Anonymous.

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