Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Philip R. Kavanaugh
Alcoholism is a type of substance addiction characterized by a preoccupation with alcohol and impaired control over alcohol consumption. Alcoholism is similar to illicit drug addiction in its association with physical and psychological dependence. However, as alcohol consumption is legal and socially accepted, problematic use often goes unrecognized and lacks the same social stigma as illicit drug use. Alcoholism falls into two separate but overlapping categories: dependence and abuse. Alcohol abuse is more prevalent among youth and young adults and is characterized by binge drinking, often resulting in legal problems such as drunk-driving arrests or interpersonal problems such as failure to fulfill employment responsibilities. In this entry the chronic and degenerative form of alcoholism—dependence—is the primary focus. Characterizing alcohol dependence is long-term abuse and the degradation of health caused by sustained long-term use. Onset of dependence can be slow, often taking years. The major criteria for diagnosis are increasing tolerance ...