broad term for problems with alcohol

Alcoholism commonly refers to any condition that results in the continued consumption of alcoholic beverages despite the health problems and negative social consequences it causes. Medical definitions describe alcoholism as a disease which results in a persistent use of alcohol despite negative consequences. Alcoholism may also refer to a preoccupation with or compulsion toward the consumption of alcohol and/or an impaired ability to recognize the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

William Hogarth's Gin Lane, 1751


  • Alcohol abuse and alcoholism have a different physiologic effect on women than on men. Societal attitudes about women and alcohol and internal (self-perception) and external (environmental) factors can create barriers to the detection and treatment of female alcohol abusers.
  • Morpheus' gifts used to come to me in bottles, Beam and black Jack Daniel's, straight up with a frosted schooner of Jax on the side, while the rain poor down in the neon glow outside the window of an all-night bar not far from the Huey Long Bridge. In a half hour I could kick open a furnace door and fling into the flames all the snakes and squeaking bats that lived inside me. Except the next morning they would writhe with new life in the ashes and come back home, stinking and hungry."
  • In my lowest moments, the only reason I didn't commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn't be able to drink any more if I was dead.
  • In a few hours it would be midnight and I would have gone a full day on my own without a drink. And one day could mean two. If I stayed off the booze, I knew I'd be able to write again.
    I started the Dart and headed north up the Coast Highway. There was a blueness to the ocean I had never noticed before.
    • Dan Fante, 'Chump Change' (1998), Chapter 20, at p.179-180
  • It's not like anything you can beat—no matter how hard you try. … It's just that you can't really help them and it's so discouraging—it's all for nothing.
  • "Jesus," he said to himself. "Drunk for ten years."
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Lost Decade" (1939)
  • I got hypoglycemic. I had to stop drinking and reorganize my whole life schedule, and that's probably the greatest blessing in my life. I stopped drinking on Aug. 11, 1982, at 20 minutes past 11. I finished two bottles of Chateau Margeaux '54, looked at my watch and said, "That's my last drink," and it was. I'd had enough anyway. I think you could probably float the QE II on the amount I've drunk.
    • Richard Harris, as quoted in "Richard Harris: an aging rebel returns to Camelot" by Matt Damasker, The Ottawa Citizen (November 13, 1986), p. D15.
  • Habitual intoxication is the epitome of every crime.
  • ‘Tis not the eating, nor ‘tis not the drinking that is to be blamed, but the excess.
  • The use of flesh foods, by the excitation that it exercises on the nervous system, prepares the way for habits of intemperance in everything; and the more flesh is consumed, the more serious is the danger of confirmed alcoholism...The lower part of man’s nature is undoubtedly intensified by the habit of feeding upon corpses. Even after eating a full meal of such horrible material, a man still feels unsatisfied, for he is still conscious of a vague, uncomfortable sense of want, and consequently he suffers greatly from nervous strain. This craving is the hunger of the bodily tissues, which cannot be renewed by the poor stuff offered to them as food. To satisfy this vague craving, or rather to appease these restless nerves so that it will no longer be felt, recourse is often had to stimulants. Sometimes alcoholic beverages are taken; sometimes an attempt is made to allay these feelings with black coffee, and at other times strong tobacco is used in the endeavor to soothe the irritated, exhausted nerves. Here we have the beginning of intemperance, for in the majority of cases intemperance began in the attempt to allay with alcoholic stimulants the vague, uncomfortable sense of want which follows the eating of impoverished food—food that does not feed. There is no doubt that drunkenness, and all the poverty, wretchedness, disease and crime associated with it, may frequently be traced to errors of feeding.
  • Suddenly he saw them, the bottles of aguardiente, of anís, of jerez, of Highland Queen, the glasses, a babel of glasses—towering, like the smoke from the train that day—built to the sky, then falling, the glasses toppling and crashing, falling downhill from the Generalife Gardens, the bottles breaking, bottles of Oporto, tinto, blanco, bottles of Pernod, Oxygènée, absinthe, bottles smashing, bottles cast aside, falling with a thud on the ground in parks, under benches, beds, cinema seats, hidden in drawers at Consulates, bottles of Calvados dropped and broken, or bursting into smithereens, tossed into garbage heaps, flung into the sea, the Mediterranean, the Caspian, the Caribbean, bottles floating in the ocean, dead Scotchmen on the Atlantic highlands—and now he saw them, smelt them, all, from the very beginning—bottles, bottles, bottles, and glasses, glasses, glasses, of bitter, of Dubonnet, of Falstaff, Rye, Johnny Walker, Vieux Whiskey blanc Canadien, the apéritifs, the digestifs, the demis, the dobles, the noch ein Herr Obers, the et glas Araks, the tusen taks, the bottles, the bottles, the beautiful bottles of tequila, and the gourds, gourds, gourds, the millions of gourds of beautiful mescal . . .
  • Following Albert Hoffmann's discovery of LSD's psychoactive properties in 1943, and previous to their scheduling as controlled substances, the psychedelic drugs were widely studied--six international conferences and hundreds of papers discussed their potential therapeutic usefulness. The observation that the frightening experience of delirium tremens sometimes led alcoholics to moderate their alcohol intake suggested to early psychedelic researchers that the "psychotomimetic" experience thought to be produced by LSD could be used to treat alcoholism. A number of hypothesis-generating studies employing a variety of research designs to examine this premise were completed, but relatively few controlled trials attempted hypothesis testing. After twenty-five years of study, a combination of flawed methodology, uneven results and social reprehension led to the abandonment of research on the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, leaving many avenues of inquiry unexplored and many questions unanswered. Today, after a thirty-year hiatus, this research is gradually being resumed, and there is renewed interest in the findings of previous studies.
  • Drink is in itself a good creature of God, but the abuse of drink is from Satan.
    • Increase Mather as quoted in The Truth About Alcohol (2005) by Barry Youngerman and Mark J. Kittleson, p. 129.
  • Mrs. Morse had been drinking all the afternoon; while she dressed to go out, she felt herself rising pleasurably from drowsiness to high spirits. But as she came out into the street the effects of the whisky deserted her completely, and she was filled with a slow, grinding wretchedness so horrible that she stood swaying on the pavement, unable for a moment to move forward.
  • Who has woe? Who has uneasiness? Who has quarrels? Who has complaints? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has bleary eyes? Those lingering long over wine; those searching out mixed wine. Do not look at the wine’s red color as it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly, for in the end it bites like a serpent, and it secretes poison like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will speak perverse things. And you will be like one lying down in the middle of the sea, like one lying at the top of a ship’s mast. You will say: “They have struck me, but I did not feel it. They beat me, but I did not know it. When will I wake up? I need another drink.”
  • Perhaps the single greatest influence on the scope and direction of alcohol research has been the finding that a portion of the vulnerability to alcoholism is genetic. This finding, more than any other, helped to establish the biological basis of alcoholism. It also provided the basis—and justification—for much of the progress in genetics, neuroscience, and neurobehavior described in the Tenth Special Report. Today we know that approximately 50 to 60 percent of the risk for developing alcoholism is genetic. Genes direct the synthesis of proteins, and it is the proteins that drive and regulate critical chemical reactions throughout the human body. Genetics, therefore, affects virtually every facet of alcohol research, from neuroscience to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
  • One of the principal payoffs of biological research in genetics and neuroscience is the potential for developing medications to treat a variety of alcohol use problems. Neuroscience research already has provided the groundwork for new medications for treating alcoholism. Researchers now are looking for new medications that target the mechanisms of the addiction itself, such as drugs that interfere with the reward properties of alcohol or craving, which are thought to be major factors in relapse. It is likely that no one medication will be effective for everyone nor that there will be the proverbial “silver bullet” of pharmacotherapies for alcoholism. Just as there are different types of medications with different mechanisms of action to treat complex diseases like diabetes, it is likely that there will be a range of medications, coupled with verbal therapies, available to clinicians
  • Men to whom wine had brought death long before lay by springs of wine and drank still, too stupefied to know their lives were past.

See also

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