The acute withdrawal phase can be defined as lasting between one and three weeks.
In the period of 3–6 weeks following cessation increased anxiety, depression, as well as sleep disturbance, is common; fatigue and tension can persist for up to 5 weeks as part of the post-acute withdrawal syndrome; about a quarter of alcoholics experience anxiety and depression for up to 2 years.
This isolation can lead to marital conflict and divorce, or contribute to domestic violence.
Alcoholism can also lead to child neglect, with subsequent lasting damage to the emotional development of the alcoholic's children.
With all alcoholic beverages, drinking while driving, operating an aircraft or heavy machinery increases the risk of an accident; many countries have penalties for drunk driving.
Long-term alcohol abuse can cause a number of physical symptoms, including cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, epilepsy, polyneuropathy, alcoholic dementia, heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, peptic ulcers and sexual dysfunction, and can eventually be fatal.
Other physical effects include an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, alcoholic liver disease, and several cancers.
Damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from sustained alcohol consumption. Additionally, heavy drinking over time has been found to have a negative effect on reproductive functioning in women.
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.