Alcoholism can defined as poisoning by alcohol, or the severe results of prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol. The alcoholic have compulsive need for alcohol and can abstain only with great difficulty or not at all. Usually he is totally unable to help himself out of his situation. The causes of alcoholism are deeply rooted in the varying needs and insecurities of the individual. There is no such thing as an "alcoholic type". An alcoholic may drink steadily day after day or he may have short periods of abstinence followed by a drinking bout. The effects of alcoholism are serious, both mentally and physically. The compulsive drinker gradually loses his desire for food and may develop dangerous malnutrition with all its varying symptoms. The liver may become enlarged, the heart damaged, and other organ affected. The central nervous system is depressed, and a steady and progressive disintegration of personality takes place. If alcoholism continues, the person will eventually develop delirium tremens, in which he loses all sense of time, space, and surroundings and is racked by terrifying visual hallucinations. During this time, many alcoholics have seriously injured themselves in their efforts to escape from their hallucinations. The condition lasts for from three to seven days and requires emergency treatment. Afterward the alcoholic will usually revert to his usual state. Death may result from an attack of delirium tremens if hospitalization and medical care are not secured. Hospitalization is desirable in treating the compulsive drinker who wishes to be cured. Physical factors are a significant part of alcoholism, and treatment includes both medical and psychological care. The influence of the endocrine glands, hormones, metabolism, and diet on alcoholism is being investigated. New tranquilizing drugs, such as chlorpromazine, and Miltown, when used with discretion, have been helpful, and a drug called Antabuse is sometimes used to condition the alcoholic against drinking. After the first stage of recovery have been reached, the alcoholic may respond to psychiatric treatment. Group therapy, in which victims of a common affliction meet and talk, has proved helpful. Among the many organizations dedicated to helping the alcoholic, the best known is Alcoholics Anonymous, a group of men and women who have overcome alcoholism, and who actively help others to do so. Their sympathetic understanding of the problems of the compulsive drinker, based upon their own experiences, and their philosophy of mutual help have proved to be one of the most effective adjuncts in treating alcoholism., Alcoholics Anonymous has branches in almost every city in the United States and in many countries throughout the world. The combined efforts of medicine, psychiatry, and organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have brought about an increasing rate of recovery in what was once considered a hopeless problem.