Alcoholism is a disease in which the affected individual is addicted to alcohol. According to the National Council on Alcoholism, it's estimated that twelve million Americans are alcoholics, and they may exhibit a wide variety of symptoms. Alcoholics may not drink for months or even years, but when they do, they have difficulty stopping. This is probably the only sure sign of an alcoholic: a consistent lack of control. Many people drink alcohol to boost self-confidence and to relax around others. They may drink to forget problems or to relieve stress. As alcoholism progresses, they may begin having financial, work, or family problems. An alcoholic may get drunk without planning to, and make promises to limit or stop drinking, but fail. They may also lie about their drinking, sneak drinks at work or school, have blackouts, go through personality changes, or drink in the morning to cure a hangover. After a period of time, they may develop physical symptoms, such as malnourishment from not eating regularly, violent shakes, hallucinations, or convulsions when they don't have alcohol in their systems. In addition, they may experience paranoia or contemplate suicide. Alcoholism is a serious disease that's best-treated if caught in its early stages. If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, seek medical help as soon as possible. For more information about the symptoms of alcoholism, contact a health care professional in your area.