Alcoholism, or "alcohol dependence syndrome," is a disease which has symptoms, causes, and effects just as asthma and diabetes do. It is diagnosed by four main characteristics; cravings, a loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance. This means that alcoholism is evident when a person is compelled to drink, is unable to stop drinking afterwards, has withdrawal symptoms once he has stopped drinking, and has need for more and more drinks in order to feel the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, the shakes, persistent sweating and anxiety. Myth and popular belief urge people towards drinking more alcohol or taking another drug in order to ease a hangover, however, only time and lots of water can alleviate but will not cure these symptoms.
The causes of alcoholism can range from growing up with an alcoholic parent or close relative to using alcohol as a means of coping with stress and the responsibilities of life. Alcohol has been a part of societies all over the world for centuries and can be enjoyed without harmful effects. However, keep in mind that alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug that slows down the central nervous system. It is so widely accepted as part of society that people tend to ignore the dangers of drinking too much. Effects can range from slurred speech, a loss of coordination, impaired judgment, and a desire to sleep. It is important to note that there is a difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. While the definition of alcohol abuse does not include any of the four characteristics of alcoholism, it involves problems that are often accompanied by drinking too much. Failure to take care of responsibilities, situations where the personís drinking can lead to physical danger, problems with the law and arrest, and relationship problems can be signs of alcohol abuse. Alcoholics experience most of these symptoms as well. Although a healthy amount of alcohol can be good for you, people often misjudge how much alcohol they are actually consuming. One standard drink can be 30ml of straight spirits, 330 ml of a can of beer, or 100ml of a glass of wine.