Alcohol Dependency

This information is useful for children and adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We are at the forefront of research into new approaches and treatments for alcoholism.
  • Our researchers contributed to FDA approval of one of the main medications used to treat alcoholism.
  • We offer clinical trials testing new treatments, giving our patients access to therapies not available elsewhere.

Many people enjoy drinking wine, beer or other alcoholic drinks in moderation and without creating problems in their lives. But, according to recent estimates, about seven percent of Americans over age 18 have alcohol use disorder. Also called alcoholism, this is a chronic condition defined by a strong dependence on alcohol and an inability to limit consumption. Men are more likely to develop alcoholism than women (it's estimated that 65 percent of alcoholics are male), but that has begun to change. Alcoholism is becoming more common in women and, especially among younger alcohol users, the gender gap is closing.

For people with alcohol use disorder, Yale Medicine offers important treatment advantages. Our Center for Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism turns basic research into new treatments that are improving the effectiveness of treatment around the world. Patients at Yale Medicine can participate in clinical research trials that may offer early access to effective new therapies not yet available elsewhere. As Ismene Petrakis, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, describes it, "we have a lot of acknowledged expertise in alcohol use disorder here at Yale."

Used responsibly, small amounts of alcohol can be safe - but excessive drinking can lead to serious health and personal problems.

"A lot of times what it refers to is to people who drink but are not able to cut back despite consequences, says Dr. Petrakis. "They continue to drink despite the fact that they may have medical consequences, psychological problems, or social problems, and they really can’t stop."

Those problems can include impaired judgment, which can lead a person who drinks too much to miss work, get in fights with a spouse, or drive while intoxicated.

While some people are able to reduce their drinking without treatment once they become aware they have a problem, many others cannot.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.