Excerpts with permission from Graham, Allan W. & Schultz, Terry K. (Editors) (American Society of Addiction Medicine): Principles of Addiction Medicine, 2nd Edition
Alcoholism is the traditional term used by both lay people and behavioral health care professionals to describe a variety of problems or disorders related to consumption of or addiction to alcohol. These include drunkenness or alcohol intoxication ("acute" alcoholism), alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence ("chronic" alcoholism).
As defined by ASAM and the National Council on Alcoholism (Morse, Flavin et al., 1992), alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.