Alcohol is both physically and psychologically addictive. It is possible to become dependent on it.
Being dependent on alcohol means that a person feels that they are unable to function without alcohol, and the consumption of alcohol becomes an important, or sometimes the most important, factor in their life.
Depending on the level of dependence, a person can experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
Physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- hand tremors (“the shakes”)
- visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not actually real)
- seizures (fits) in the most serious cases
Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:
- insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
Severely dependent drinkers usually experience severe withdrawal symptoms. They often fall into a pattern of “relief drinking”, where they drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Severely dependent drinkers are often able to tolerate very high levels of alcohol, and they are able to drink amounts that would incapacitate, or even kill, most other people.