Alcoholism: A Life Span Perspective on Etiology and Course

  • Brian M. Hicks
  • Robert A. Zucker


Alcoholism is a disorder involving problems with the use of alcohol such that the consumption becomes compulsive and/or negatively affects the person’s health, personal relationships, and ability to fulfill major role obligations (e.g., work, family). For over 30 years, the disorder was defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) disorders of alcohol dependence and abuse. Dependence involves physiological addiction (tolerance or withdrawal) and/or compulsive alcohol use, where use is continued despite problems of physical and mental health as well as impairment in social, family, and job responsibilities. Alcohol abuse involves less severe drinking problems, including hazardous use (e.g., drunk driving) and social problems (e.g., legal problems due to drinking), but not physiological dependence. There is little evidence, however, to justify the distinction between symptoms of abuse and dependence (Borges et al., 2010). Rather, problematic alcohol use seems best conceptualized as a continuum ranging from heavy use to severe symptoms. As such, the broader term alcohol use disorder (AUD) is now used in the recently published, latest edition of the DSM (DSM-5), which we also use to refer to the general condition of problematic alcohol use over time.


Antisocial Behavior Genetic Influence Nicotine Dependence Parental Monitoring Antisocial Personality Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Addiction Research CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, Addiction Research CenterUniversity of Michigan Medical SchoolAnn ArborUSA

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