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Alcohol Dependence


Alcohol dependence is the need to drink alcohol often to function in your daily life. You often drink large amounts of alcohol. Alcohol dependence is also known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is a disease that can affect almost every part of your body.


Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Do not try to stop drinking on your own. Your healthcare provider will help you withdraw from alcohol safely. He may need to admit you to the hospital. You may also need any of the following treatments:

  • Medicines to decrease your craving for alcohol
  • Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Psychiatrist or psychologist for therapy
  • Admission to an inpatient facility for treatment for severe dependence

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your heart is beating faster than normal.
  • You have hallucinations.
  • You cannot remember what happens while you are drinking.
  • You have seizures.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are anxious and have nausea.
  • Your hands are shaky and you are sweating heavily.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Common behaviors of alcohol dependence:

  • You keep drinking alcohol even if you know it increases your risk for health problems. Health problems include liver problems, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and stroke.
  • You develop tolerance for alcohol. Tolerance means the amount of alcohol you usually drink no longer causes the effects you may desire. You may need to drink even more alcohol to get its previous effects.
  • You put extra effort and time into drinking alcohol. You may often go to events or activities that will include drinking. You may also spend much of your time drinking alcohol or being with people who also drink.
  • You have withdrawal (physical or mental) symptoms after not drinking for a short period. The same amount of alcohol may be needed to relieve or prevent withdrawal symptoms. You may also have to drink to stop tremors (shakes) or to cure a hangover.
  • You crave alcohol. You may have a desire to drink more frequently and to drink larger amounts of alcohol.
  • You have problems decreasing or controlling alcohol use. You are not able to control your drinking habits. You keep going back to drinking even after you quit.
  • You spend less time doing more important things. You have trouble with social or daily activities at school, work, or home.

For more information:

    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
      22 Cortlandt St., Suite 801
      New York City , NY 10007-3128
      Phone: 1- 212 - 269-7797
      Phone: 1- 800 - 622-2255
      Web Address:
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
      Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.