Alcohol Dependence & Abuse

Alcohol dependence is a chronic condition requiring sustained intervention and treatment. Those who are dependent on alcohol experience:

  • a craving for alcohol;
  • a loss of control over their drinking;
  • withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking and
  • an increased tolerance to alcohol so that they have to drink more to achieve the same effect.

Alcohol dependence is largely considered as a progressive condition characterised by a strong need to drink despite undeniable problems associated with continued use. Like substance abuse, dependence on alcohol is a serious health issue potentially leading to deteriorating functioning, problems relating to loved ones, and chronic health problems like cirrhosis of the liver. Families and friends are often adversely affected by the deteriorating functioning of an affected family member and if left untreated, alcoholism can ultimately lead to early mortality.

If you or someone you love, are unclear about the extent of their alcohol use, an on-line self-test using the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) tool developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is available to determine if a person’s alcohol consumption might be harmful. The test is available here.


Fortunately, there are a range of treatment options available including self help groups (link to 12 step fellowship), residential programmes and a wide range of counseling options.  Treatment is offered in both private and public sectors with costs varying enormously depending on the type of treatment sought.