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Alcoholism is an addictive dependency on alcohol characterised by craving (a strong need to drink); loss of control (being unable to stop); physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms; and tolerance (increasing difficulty of becoming drunk).

King Alcohol and his Prime Minister
engraving (detail) circa 1820

Alcoholism is a life-threatening problem that often ends in death, particularly through liver disease and internal bleeding. In young alcoholics however, there are still risks of death by alcohol poisioning, alcohol related accidents, or suicide.

Stereotypes of alcoholics, often as a ?town drunk,? are often found in fiction.

Alcohol dependence is much harder to break and much more damaging than dependence on most other addictive substances. The physical symptoms when withdrawing from alcohol are seen to be equal to those experienced during withdrawal from heroin.

Treatments for alcoholism include detoxification[?] programs run by medical institutions. This may involve a stay of a couple of weeks in a specialized hospital ward where drugs may be used to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Further drugs may be prescribed after the detoxification to reduce craving for alcohol.

Exhaustive studies, including those by author Wayne Kritsberg[?], show that alcoholism affects not only the addicted but profoundly impacts the family members around them. Many people incorrectly assume that once the person quits drinking, all is well. However, a fair amount of people who have stopped drinking still refer to themselves as "alcoholics" or "recovering alcoholics."

Also, an alcoholic parent influences the behaviour and attitudes of everyone in his or her family, including their children, even after they are grown. The condition is usually referred to as ?The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome.?

Other organisations working with alcoholics include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Men For Sobriety (MFS)
  • Moderation Management (MM)
  • Rational Recovery (RR)
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
  • Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
  • Women For Sobriety (WFS)

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