We receive many inquiries into alcoholism disease, alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. This article briefly describes all three, based on the on-going studies many physicians and scientists are doing in order to understand alcoholism and help with its treatment.
Alcoholism was officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 1991. Overall, like any disease alcoholism follows a pattern, starting out slow and building toward more and more harmful levels of addiction.
The major difficulty with alcoholism disease is that it isn’t always easy to figure out the triggering mechanism. Each person with the disease is unique and has a wholly individual combination of contributing factors that need to be sorted and recognized. These factors may include, but are not limited to a person’s environment, genetics, having a family member who was alcoholic, physical or psychological illnesses, and underage drinking. Over time this disease may lead to alcohol dependence where a person feels that they simply cannot stop drinking.
Humankind has been making and enjoying alcohol for thousands of years. It has become part of nearly every important occasion from births and weddings to housewarmings and dances. For young people drinking is also a “right of passage” into adulthood. In effect, alcohol has become part of our social conditioning. When used in moderation, it can even have positive effects. However, considering that approximately 13 million people in the United States over-indulge, it’s obvious that this drug needs to be treated with care. Alcohol abuse accounts for numerous employment issues, domestic problems, financial struggles and physical illnesses.
Alcoholism disease creates some immediate effects on a person including emotional changes that the individual may find pleasant. This happens when alcohol releases chemicals in the brain that signal pleasure centers. This pleasurable aspect is part of what causes alcohol dependence in some individuals. The craving for alcohol grows stronger, and eventually a person cannot control their addiction. Additionally alcoholism lowers a person’s risk-taking constraints, making it easier and easier to consume greater quantities of alcohol even when the dangers are well known.
Long-term alcohol dependence leads to a variety of moderate to severe health problems. The longer and heavier the consumption, the worse the physical results become. In pregnant women, drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome that causes deformities or other deficiency in a child that can affect them for life. For some people alcohol opens the door to becoming dependent on other drugs. Men may experience impotency; women irregularity with their cycle. Additionally both men and women face the possibility of depression, heart problems, cancer, and liver disease just to name a few.
You can follow this link to learn more about the medical consequences of alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you know has a drinking problem there are numerous medical, social and religious organizations that you can turn to for assistance and information. It is very important for friends and family members of an alcoholic to be educated about this disease, it’s signs, progression, and risks. It is also important that friends and family have a support system to help during difficult times.
Alcoholism is a life long disease that takes time and serious commitment to manage. The drinker must be ready and willing to make a change, and dedicate themselves to staying sober so that their quality of life returns. Stopping drinking may not reverse all the negative effects of alcoholism, but it will negate the stress on one’s job and family that alcoholism brings.
Alcoholic Rehab - Find out about the five primary components of an alcohol rehab program so that you choose the right program for your needs.
What is Alcoholism - Information about alcoholism including the definition of an alcoholic. Learn about the signs and symptoms, and how it affects family, friends and coworkers.
Summit Behavioral Health - Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for addiction treatment and lasting recovery.
Definition of Alcoholism - Find out the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Although many people think alcoholism is not a disease, experts tell us that addiction is an illness. Follow the links to learn more.
Acute Alcoholism - Important information about the short-term impact of heavy drinking on the body and brain.
Alcoholic Treatment Center - Learn about the treatment process at an alcohol rehab center.
Alcoholic Denial - It is very common for alcoholics to lie about their condition. Being prepared for this will make it easier for family, friends and coworkers to cope. Find out what to expect.