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Definition of Alcoholism

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Alcoholism: Physical dependence on alcohol to the extent that stopping alcohol use would bring on withdrawal symptoms. In popular and therapeutic parlance, the term may also be used to refer to ingrained drinking habits that cause health or social problems. Treatment requires first ending the physical dependence and then making lifestyle changes that help the individual avoid relapse. In some cases, medication and hospitalization are necessary. Alcohol dependence can have many serious effects on the brain, liver, and other organs of the body, some of which can lead to death.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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