Alcohol Dependence - NCDPC

How many suffer?

  • WHO estimates that nearly 140 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol dependence and 78% are not treated.
  • Men are three times more likely than women to become alcoholics
  • People aged 65 and older have the lowest rates of alcohol dependence.


What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Strong and persistent desire to drink alcohol despite harmful consequences.
  • Inability to control drinking.
  • Higher priority given to alcohol than other obligations.
  • Tolerance to alcohol and physical withdrawal reaction when alcohol is abruptly discontinued.

What can be done?

The best methods to treat alcohol dependency vary, depending upon an individual's medical and personal needs.

  • Some heavy drinkers who recognize their problem appear to recover on their own.
  • Others recover through participation in the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous or other self-help groups.
  • Some alcoholics require long-term individual or group therapy, which may inlcude hospitalization.
  • Treatment can also be done in community setting.
  • Prognosis is good even if a person is pressured into treatment.
  • Patients who come for voluntary treatment have the best prognosis.
  • Voluntary mutual help organizations play a large role in the treatment.
  • Effective alcohol control policies are also needed.

What causes it?

Medical science has yet to identify the the exact cause of alcohol dependence, but research suggest that genetic, psychological, and social factors influence its development.  Studies show that alcoholism runs in families - alcoholics are six times more likely than nonalcoholic to have blood relatives who are alcohol dependent.  Researchers have long pondered whether these familial patterns result from gentics or from a common home environment, which oftern includes alcoholic parents.  Conduct disorders and other childhood disorders increase risk of alcohol related disorders in adult.

Psychoanalytic theory points to people with harsh superego and self-punitive turn to alcohol to diminish unconsious stress.


What is alcohol dependence?

It is a chronic mental disorder marked by a craving for alcohol. People who suffer from this illness are known as alcoholics. It sometimes become the underlying cause of serious harm, including medical disorders, marital difficulties, job loss, or automobile crashes.