World Book Dictionary (1967) definition:
Alcoholism; 1. a disease which has as its chief symptom the inability to drink alcoholic liquors in moderation: The only effective cure for alcoholism comes through personal and social psychotherapy.
2. a diseased condition caused by drinking too much alcoholic liquor, especially continual drinking to excess: Alcoholism may result in death. 3. alcohol poisoning.



(A) A maladaptive pattern of drinking, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least one of the following occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Recurrent use of alcohol resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use; alcohol-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)

  • Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by alcohol use)

  • Recurrent alcohol-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol-related disorderly conduct)

  • Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication).

(B) Never met criteria for alcohol dependence.


(A) A maladaptive pattern of drinking, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three or more of the following occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  • Need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol

  • The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol; or drinking (or using a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

  • Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.

  • Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking

  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of drinking

  • A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain, to use, or to recover from the effects of drinking

  • Continued drinking despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by drinking.

(B) No duration criterion separately specified, but several dependence criteria must occur repeatedly as specified by duration qualifiers associated with criteria.


Alcoholics Anonymous has created twelve questions a potential alcoholic can ponder to determine if help is needed. AA believes that if yes is answered to four or more of the following questions help should be sought:

  1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days? Yes or No?

  2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking-- stop telling you what to do? Yes or No?

  3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk? Yes or No?

  4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year? Yes or No?

  5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble? Yes or No?

  6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year? Yes or No?

  7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home? Yes or No?

  8. Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough? Yes or No?

  9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to? Yes or No?

  10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking? Yes or No?

  11. Do you have "blackouts"? Yes or No?

  12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink? Yes or No?