- Strong need to drink (a craving for alcohol): a feeling that "if I don't drink I will go crazy", the belief that only "if I have a drink I will think of something", irritability, nervousness, tension combined with the desire to be immediately free of these feelings, e.g. by drinking alcohol; the feeling that alcohol "is on my mind all day".
- Impaired ability to control drinking (loss of control): difficulties in avoiding starting drinking, difficulty in stopping drinking or problems with controlling drinking to a previously planned level, after drinking one dose of alcohol one loses control over further drinking.
- Withdrawal symptoms and drinking to alleviate them: symptoms appear after stopping drinking, when blood alcohol levels fall below tolerance levels; muscle twitching, hypertension, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, insomnia, dilated pupils, dry mucous membranes, increased sweating, sleep disturbance, irritable or depressed mood, anxiety and so-called drinking for a hangover, hair of the dog - drinking the day after drinking.
- Changes in alcohol tolerance: initially, tolerance increases, one has to drink more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect as before - the so-called strong head; over time, however, this amount of alcohol may decrease, one needs less and less alcohol to get drunk, decreasing tolerance.
- Narrowing the range of drinking-related behavioural patterns: either a binge or abstinence, frequently getting drunk, periods of prolonged daily drinking of fixed doses of alcohol followed by a period of heavy drinking, etc.
- Drinking-related progressive neglect of pleasures and interests: one loses the skills necessary for a sober life, is unable to spend leisure time sober, gives up various activities and behaviours, because drinking takes more and more time, drinking becomes the most important thing in life.
- Drinking despite the knowledge of its harmfulness: at some point one starts to realise the harmfulness of drinking, often promises oneself not to drink anymore, but does not keep these promises, other people may notice the drinking problem, but despite this, one continues to drink, goes against the doctor's recommendations about drinking, really wants to stop drinking, but after a while returns to it.
It is enough to identify three out of seven symptoms to diagnose alcohol dependency.