Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the 12 Steps, devised by its co-founder, Bill W., and based on the Christian beliefs he adopted as part of his sobriety. The 12 Steps are presented as a set of principles to guide former alcoholics on how to tackle the problems caused by their addiction, how to make amends, and how to continue in their new lives as recovering drinkers. The 12 Steps have proven iconic enough to be adapted by other self-help and addiction recovery groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, with the precise terms adapted to represent the focus of the particular group. Additionally, many groups have changed the explicitly Christian overtones of the original 12 Steps to reflect secular or agnostic philosophies.
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Severe childhood trauma is also associated with a general increase in the risk of drug dependency.[69] Lack of peer and family support is associated with an increased risk of alcoholism developing.[69] Genetics and adolescence are associated with an increased sensitivity to the neurotoxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse. Cortical degeneration due to the neurotoxic effects increases impulsive behaviour, which may contribute to the development, persistence and severity of alcohol use disorders. There is evidence that with abstinence, there is a reversal of at least some of the alcohol induced central nervous system damage.[74] The use of cannabis was associated with later problems with alcohol use.[75] Alcohol use was associated with an increased probability of later use of tobacco, cannabis, and other illegal drugs.[76]

A genome-wide association study of more than 100,000 human individuals identified variants of the gene KLB, which encodes the transmembrane protein β-Klotho, as highly associated with alcohol consumption. The protein β-Klotho is an essential element in cell surface receptors for hormones involved in modulation of appetites for simple sugars and alcohol.[90]
Alcohol affects virtually every organ system in the body and, in high doses, can cause coma and death. It affects several neurotransmitter systems in the brain, including opiates, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine. Increased opiate levels help explain the euphoric effect of alcohol, while its effects on GABA cause anxiolytic and sedative effects.

Treating underlying problems: There may be problems with self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression, or other aspects of mental health. It is important to treat these problems, too, as they can increase the risks posed by alcohol. Common alcohol-related issues, such as hypertension, liver diseases, and possibly heart diseases, will need to be treated too.
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WHO's ICD-10 "alcohol harmful use" and "alcohol dependence syndrome" Definitions are similar to that of the DSM-IV. The World Health Organization uses the term "alcohol dependence syndrome" rather than alcoholism.[24] The concept of "harmful use" (as opposed to "abuse") was introduced in 1992's ICD-10 to minimize underreporting of damage in the absence of dependence.[100] The term "alcoholism" was removed from ICD between ICD-8/ICDA-8 and ICD-9.[103]
Because the 12-step philosophy is proven to be one of the most successful approaches to managing the disease of addiction, many drug and alcohol rehab programs have integrated these steps into their treatment models. If you enter an inpatient or outpatient rehab program these days, you’re likely to have the opportunity to learn about 12-step recovery strategies or to participate in 12-step meetings.
Alcohol dependence is also known as alcoholism; however, health professionals tend not to use this term because of its potential to increase stigma and discrimination of the condition. Alcohol dependency is the most common substance use disorder in Australia. Individuals who are alcohol dependent tend to prioritise drinking alcohol over other activities (including seeing friends and going to work). However, alcohol dependency is not an all or nothing condition. It occurs on a continuum ranging from mild to severe. Individuals with a mild dependence on alcohol may crave an alcoholic drink when it is not available and find it difficult to stop drinking after a couple of drinks. Individuals with severe alcohol dependence suffer physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms (e.g. vomiting, anxiety) when they do not consume alcohol.
Alcohol dependency occurs on a continuum. Many Australians are only moderately or mildly dependent on alcohol (e.g. they may find it difficult to stop drinking once they start). They do not exhibit physical withdrawals like those with severe alcohol dependence, and do not consider their drinking patterns problematic. This may be because the major health and social consequences of alcohol dependence (with the exclusion of violence) do not begin when an individual first becomes alcohol dependent. For example, it may take years for an individual who is alcohol dependent to have financial or relationship problems as a result of drinking. In many cases chronic excessive drinking may have no immediate health and social consequences.
In the twelve-step program human structure is symbolically represented in three dimensions: physical, mental, and spiritual. The problems the groups deal with are understood to manifest themselves in each dimension. For addicts and alcoholics the physical dimension is best described by the allergy-like bodily reaction resulting in the compulsion to continue using substances after the initial use.[17][18] The statement in the First Step that the individual is "powerless" over the substance-abuse related behavior at issue refers to the lack of control over this compulsion, which persists despite any negative consequences that may be endured as a result.[19]