Alternate Names : Alcoholism, Alcohol Addiction, Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol dependence is a chronic pattern of
alcohol abuse. An alcoholic gets used to the effects of alcohol and
requires more alcohol to get the desired effect. This is called tolerance. A
person with alcohol dependence may experience an uncontrollable need for
What is going on in the body?
Alcohol is a depressant. At a blood alcohol level of 0.05%,
thought, judgment and restraint are affected. At a level of 0.1%,
motor skills become clumsy. When the blood alcohol level reaches
0.2%, the entire area of the brain that controls motor function is negatively
affected. Alcohol also affects the parts of the brain that control emotions and
behavior. At 0.3%, the person is likely to be confused and
stuporous. An individual at a blood alcohol level of 0.4% or higher may go into a coma. If blood alcohol levels exceed 0.5%, an individual might choke on vomit or stop breathing.
Prolonged alcohol use can actually alter the genes in the brain. People with
alcoholism may have impaired memory, poor concentration, and inability to focus
after a distraction.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
No one knows for sure what causes alcohol abuse and dependence. Factors that increase a person's chance of becoming dependent on alcohol include:
frequent social situations that encourage drinking
childhood history of attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder or conduct
one or both parents dependent upon
alcohol abuse by a young adult that begins as weekend or evening