Alcohol Dependence

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain. While many people drink alcohol to experience pleasurable effects of mild intoxication, continued excessive drinking can produce tolerance and dependence.

  • Tolerance is the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect
  • Dependence is the compulsive need to drink alcohol despite negative consequences and/or to seek relief from alcohol withdrawal or stress

Alcohol alters brain function, and can lead to uncontrolled drinking. In alcohol dependence, chemical changes in the brain further perpetuate harmful drinking, underlie symptoms of withdrawal, and increase chances of relapse.

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE DRINKING

Genetics
-alcohol sensitivity
-alcohol metabolism

Environmental Circumstances
-peer pressure
-stress
-alcohol-related cures

Learning/Memory
-expectactions
-prior experience

Biological Factors
-age
-sex
-brain chemistry

Download a pdf of our feature that ran in the Post & Courier

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Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs
MUSC
67 President Street
MSC 861
Charleston, SC
(843) 792-2727