or alcohol dependence is defined by the American Medical Association
(AMA) as "a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial,
and environmental factors influencing its development and
is characterized by:
risk of developing alcoholism has a definite genetic component.
Studies have demonstrated that close relatives of people with
alcoholism are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. This risk
exists even for children adopted away from their biological families
at birth and raised in a non-alcoholic adoptive family with no
knowledge of their biological family's alcohol use. However, no
specific gene for alcoholism has been found, and environmental
factors (e.g., stress) and social factors (e.g., peer behavior) are
thought to play a role in whether a person becomes alcohol dependent.
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text
requires three of the following traits to be present for a diagnosis
of alcohol dependence:
meaning that a person becomes accustomed to consuming alcohol and
must increase the amount in order to obtain the desired effect
meaning that a person experiences unpleasant physical and
psychological symptoms when he or she does not drink alcohol
tendency to drink more alcohol than one intends; being unable to
avoid drinking or stop drinking once started
large blocks of time to acquiring and consuming alcohol
attempts to reduce or stop alcohol use
to use alcohol at the expense of other important tasks or activities
such as work or family obligations
despite evidence of negative effects on one's physical and/or mental
tool for initiating the diagnosis of alcoholism is the CAGE
questionnaire. It consists of four questions, with the first letters
of each key word spelling out the word CAGE. Answering yes two or
more of these questions suggests an alcohol problem exists and should
begins by talking with a professional who can help access your
alcohol use/abuse. This professional can help direct you to recovery
groups such as Alcoholics anonymous, treatment programs –
inpatient, outpatient and detox services. The most important step is
to have the conversation about your alcohol use. This takes courage
and willingness. Contact your Employee Assistance program for
further information and assistance.
[cited January 14, 2009].
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
February 20, 2008 [cited January 14, 2009]. Thompson, Warren and R.
August 19, 2008 [cited January 14, 2009].