What’s the definition of an alcoholic? Whilst some people use the phrase ‘alcoholic’ other people may talk about ‘alcohol dependence’.

Drinking at high-risk levels is associated with reduced life expectancy, difficulties with relationships at home and at work, along with deteriorating physical and mental health and general well-being.

Alcohol Dependence Syndrome is a condition that affects 4% of adults in the UK.

Am I an alcoholic?
If you’ve experienced any of the following alcohol addiction symptoms in the past twelve months, you may be alcohol dependent:

• Tolerance
Requiring increasing amounts of alcohol to ‘get drunk’.

• Compulsion
Becoming aware of alcohol cravings (particularly when you wake up).

• Withdrawal
Experiencing physiological withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating, vomiting and nausea, rapid heart rate, anxiety and insomnia when drinking has ceased or reduced. Other symptoms can include agitation, seizures, disorientation and even hallucinations. The ‘DTs’ (Delirium Tremens) is a combination of these symptoms, such as agitation, disorientation and hallucinations, all happening at the same time.

• Avoidance of withdrawal
Using alcohol to reduce the symptoms listed above. This includes ‘eye-opener’ drinks in the morning.

• Reinstatement
A relapse into problematic alcohol use after a period of abstinence.


Alcohol dependence isn’t just limited to physical effects though. It also includes the following behavioural changes:

• Salience 
Finding you are preoccupied with where the next drink will come from, and planning your day around alcohol.

• Narrow repertoire
Drinking in spite of negative consequences in your personal and professional life and your needs are almost entirely limited to those involving alcohol.

I’m experiencing alcohol withdrawal – What should I do?

If you notice that you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms when drinking less than you normally would, you should seek emergency healthcare at A&E immediately.

Find out whether you at risk of alcohol addition, or whether you may already be alcohol dependent by taking our quick alcohol test.

If you are alcohol dependent, then suddenly cutting down the amount you drink drastically is not safe. Ensure you get the right support plan agreed with a medical professional or alcohol specialist worker.


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