A BAC from 0.25% to 0.40% causes stupor, unconsciousness, anterograde amnesia, vomiting (death may occur due to inhalation of vomit (pulmonary aspiration) while unconscious and respiratory depression (potentially life-threatening).
In a medical context, alcoholism is said to exist when two or more of the following conditions is present: a person drinks large amounts over a long time period, has difficulty cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use.
Alcohol use can affect all parts of the body but particularly affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system.
This can result in mental illness, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, an irregular heart beat, liver failure, and an increase in the risk of cancer, among other diseases.
Both environmental factors and genetics are associated with alcoholism with about half the risk attributed to each.
A person with a parent or sibling with alcoholism is three to four times more likely to be alcoholic themselves. Because of the medical problems that can occur during withdrawal, alcohol detoxification should be carefully controlled.
One common method involves the use of benzodiazepine medications, such as diazepam.
This can be either given while admitted to a health care institution or occasionally while a person remains in the community with close supervision.
The risk of alcohol dependence begins at low levels of drinking and increases directly with both the volume of alcohol consumed and a pattern of drinking larger amounts on an occasion, to the point of intoxication, which is sometimes called "binge drinking".
Young adults are particularly at risk of engaging in binge drinking.
Alcoholism is characterised by an increased tolerance to alcohol–which means that an individual can consume more alcohol–and physical dependence on alcohol, which makes it hard for an individual to control their consumption.
The physical dependency caused by alcohol can lead to an affected individual having a very strong urge to drink alcohol.