The official diagnosis of drug addiction by the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (2000), which makes distinctions between drug use, abuse, and substance dependence, is flawed. First, diagnosis of drug use versus abuse can be arbitrary and reflect cultural norms, not medical phenomena. Second, the term substance dependence implies that dependence is the primary pharmacologic phenomenon underlying addiction, which is likely not true, as tolerance, sensitization, and learning and memory also play central roles. It is ironic and unfortunate that the Manual avoids use of the term addiction, which provides the best description of the clinical syndrome.
Getting alcohol out of the addicted person’s system is the first part of recovery. People with a severe alcohol addiction can experience intense withdrawal symptoms. A supervised alcohol detox is usually necessary for people addicted to alcohol to prevent potentially fatal complications. Shaking, sweating, seizures, and hallucinations are possible alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Woman Turns to Rehab After Struggling With Drugs, Alcohol: Part 1