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Alcohol is considered a drug based on the fact that it affects a persons emotional and physical state. This change in the persons emotional and physical state is called intoxication. There are four stages of alcoholism; Problem drinking, tolerance, dependence, and alcoholism.
Problem drinking happens when a person starts to drink regularly. Whether it is social drinking, drinking to avoid stress or boredom, or drinking just because they think its fun. A problem drinker may also start to drink at inappropriate times. If these problem drinkers drink to often, they may build a tolerance to alcohol, which is the second stage of alcoholism. When a person developes a tolerance, their body requires more alcohol to receive the same affect. The more time they spend drinking and recovering from drinking, the more time is lost with their work, families, and friends. People who build a tolerance to alcohol often become paranoid and secretive as they try to hide their problem.
Dependence is the third step of alcoholism. This is where a persons body starts to need alcohol to function normally. If a person with a dependence stops drinking, they may experience withdrawals like sweating, shaking, and nausea.