Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



Alcohol dependence can involve any of the following symptoms or behaviors:

  • Having long episodes of intoxication

  • Drinking alone

  • Having work problems or financial problems caused by drinking

  • Losing interest in food

  • Being careless about personal appearance

  • Having blackouts

  • Driving drunk

  • Hurting oneself or someone else while intoxicated

  • Hiding liquor bottles and glasses to hide the evidence of drinking

  • Experiencing mood or personality changes

Because large amounts of alcohol can be toxic to the body (for example, the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or nervous systems), alcoholism also may cause physical symptoms:

  • Morning nausea or shaking

  • Signs of malnutrition due to a poor diet

  • Abdominal pain or diarrhea

  • A flushed red color to the face and palms

  • Numbness, weakness or tingling in the arms or legs

  • Unusually frequent accidental injuries, especially falls

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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