Alcohol dependence is a substance-related disorder in which an individual is physically or psychologicallydependent upon drinking alcohol. In certain diagnostic models (e.g., the DSM-V), the term has a broader definition that also includes other alcohol use-related disorders as well.
Use in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended
Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down on alcohol use
Time is spent obtaining alcohol or recovering from effects
Social, occupational and recreational pursuits are given up or reduced because of alcohol use
Use is continued despite knowledge of alcohol-related harm (physical or psychological)
History and epidemiology
About 12% of American adults have had an alcohol dependence problem at some time in their life. In the UK the NHS estimates that around 9% of men and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence. The term 'alcohol dependence' has replaced 'alcoholism' as a term in order that individuals do not internalize the idea of cure and disease, but can approach alcohol as a chemical they may depend upon to cope with outside pressures.
The contemporary definition of alcohol dependence is still based upon early research. There has been considerable scientific effort over the past several decades to identify and understand the core features of alcohol dependence. This work began in 1976, when the British psychiatrist Griffith Edwards and his American colleague Milton M. Gross  collaborated to produce a formulation of what had previously been understood as ‘alcoholism’ – the alcohol dependence syndrome.
The alcohol dependence syndrome was seen as a cluster of seven elements that concur. It was argued that not all elements may be present in every case, but the picture is sufficiently regular and coherent to permit clinical recognition. The syndrome was also considered to exist in degrees of severity rather than as a categorical absolute. Thus, the proper question is not ‘whether a person is dependent on alcohol’, but ‘how far along the path of dependence has a person progressed’.
"The Drunkard’s Progress", 1846
The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) is considered the most accurate alcohol screening tool for identifying potential alcohol misuse, including dependence. It was developed by the World Health Organisation, designed initially for use in primary healthcare settings with supporting guidance. Its use has replaced older screening tools such as CAGE but there are many shorter alcohol screening tools, mostly derived from the AUDIT. The Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (SAD-Q) is a more specific twenty item inventory for assessing the presence and severity of alcohol dependence.
Other alcohol-related disorders
Because only 3 of the 7 DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence are required, not all patients meet the same criteria and therefore not all have the same symptoms and problems related to drinking. Not everyone with alcohol dependence, therefore, experiences physiological dependence. Alcohol dependence is differentiated from alcohol abuse by the presence of symptoms such as tolerance and withdrawal. Both alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse are sometimes referred to by the less specific term alcoholism. However, many definitions of alcoholism exist, and only some are compatible with alcohol abuse. There are two major differences between alcohol dependence and alcoholism as generally accepted by the medical community.
Alcohol dependence refers to an entity in which only alcohol is the involved addictive agent. Alcoholism refers to an entity in which alcohol or any cross-tolerant addictive agent is involved.
In alcohol dependence, reduction of alcohol, as defined within DSM-IV, can be attained by learning to control the use of alcohol. That is, a client can be offered a social learning approach that helps them to 'cope' with external pressures by re-learning their pattern of drinking alcohol. In alcoholism, patients are generally not presumed to be 'in remission' unless they are abstinent from alcohol.
The following elements are the template for which the degree of dependence is judged:
Narrowing of the drinking repertoire.
Increased salience of the need for alcohol over competing needs and responsibilities.
An acquired tolerance to alcohol.
Relief or avoidance of withdrawal symptoms by further drinking.
Treatments for alcohol dependence can be separated into two groups, those directed towards severely alcohol-dependent people, and those focused for those at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Treatment for alcohol dependence often involves utilizing relapse prevention, support groups, psychotherapy, and setting short-term goals. The Twelve-Step Program is also a popular process used by those wishing to recover from alcohol dependence.
There is insufficient evidence to support the use of anticonvulsants to treat those with alcohol dependence.
Follow the recommendations. It is especially important to:
Eliminate or reduce sources of stress
Identify negative coping patterns and replace them with positive patterns
Perform a relaxation/breathing exercise for a minimum of five minutes twice per day
Manage time effectively
Enhance your relationships through better communication
^Malenka RC, Nestler EJ, Hyman SE (2009). "Chapter 15: Reinforcement and Addictive Disorders". In Sydor A, Brown RY. Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. pp. 364–375. ISBN9780071481274.
^Nestler EJ (December 2013). "Cellular basis of memory for addiction". Dialogues Clin Neurosci15 (4): 431–443. PMC3898681. PMID24459410. DESPITE THE IMPORTANCE OF NUMEROUS PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS, AT ITS CORE, DRUG ADDICTION INVOLVES A BIOLOGICAL PROCESS: the ability of repeated exposure to a drug of abuse to induce changes in a vulnerable brain that drive the compulsive seeking and taking of drugs, and loss of control over drug use, that define a state of addiction. ... A large body of literature has demonstrated that such ΔFosB induction in D1-type NAc neurons increases an animal's sensitivity to drug as well as natural rewards and promotes drug self-administration, presumably through a process of positive reinforcement
^Hasin D et al. (2007). "Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence in the United States". Archives of General Psychiatry64 (7): 830–42. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.64.7.830. PMID17606817.