Alcohol is amongst the 5 most important disease factors in industrialized countries. One in 5 people between 18 and 64 has a drinking problem. In Germany, 74,000 deaths per year are attributable to alcohol-related health problems.
After tobacco, alcohol is the second cause of mortality.
In Bavaria, the annual costs of health and social care for alcohol abuse is €3 billion. This also includes accidents at work, absenteeism, car accidents, premature pension, divorces and health care costs.
Alcoholism (also called alcohol dependence, ethylism, dipsomania, potomania, drunkenness or alcohol addiction) is the dependence on the psychotropic substance of ethyl alcohol. The procurement and consumption of alcohol determine the addict's life. Typical signs are: Progressive loss of control over the drinking behavior up to compulsive consumption, neglect of former interests in favor of drinking, denying addictive behavior, withdrawal symptoms in the case of reduced consumption, tolerance to alcohol (ability to drink large amount of alcohol) as well as changes in personality.
The classification systems ICD-10 and DSM-IV differentiate between alcohol dependence (F10.2 or 303.90) and alcohol abuse (F10.1 or 305.00). The latter describes alcohol consumption as a weaker variant of alcohol abuse with a demonstrably harmful effect (physically or mentally) without an addiction.
The number of people suffering from alcoholism and the social and economic consequences caused by this are much higher than with other, illegal drugs – besides health damage caused by tobacco consumption – in absolute figures in Europe and the USA. 7.4% of health problems and cases of premature death in Europe are attributed to alcohol. Therefore, alcoholism is the third most common cause of premature death after tobacco consumption and high blood pressure. It is also the most frequent cause of death in young men in the EU.
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The following illnesses occur with alcoholism and could make people sit up and take notice with regard to the severity of alcohol consumption:
Late symptoms of alcoholism: