Alchoholism is a condition in which a person is addicted to alcohol. Many people drink alcohol with out being addicted, but drinking becomes alcholism when they are unable to control their drinking and their drinking has a negative effect on their lives.
Alchoholism is a serious disease. It affects many areas of a person’s life. Let’s look at some of those in detail.
Alcoholics often drink to cover a number of emotional problems, including stress, anxiety, and depression. However, alcohol is a depressant, so it causes them to feel more depressed once they sober up. Of course, this usually just makes them want to drink more. They often feel guilty about their drinking as well. They may have mood swings.
Alcohol impairs a person’s judgment, causing them to make poor decisions and to do things when intoxicated that they would not do when sober. They may regret these things the next day or be embarrassed about them. Sometimes they have “blackouts” and don’t remember things they did while intoxicated.
Alcoholics often do things while drunk that they wouldn’t do when they are sober. They may engage in risky behaviors, like driving drunk. They may get into fights or behave violently. They have accidents, such as falling down.
There is also a social component to alcholism. Alcoholics tend to withdraw from family and friends, who often criticize their drinking. Instead, they spend more and more time drinking. They often drink alone, but may also spend time socializing with other drinkers.
As a person begins drinking more and more, close relationships suffer. Family members and close friends often express concern about how much an alcoholic is drinking, and the alcoholic becomes angry when confronted. The alcoholic then begins to withdraw from the relationship. The relationship becomes strained and communication breaks down.
Alcholism can also have severe financial consequences. Alcoholics may miss work due to drinking or being hung over. Their work performance may suffer due to their drinking. They may lose their job. They may also spend an inordinate amount of money on alcohol.
There can be legal consequences to alchoholism, as well. The most common is arrest for driving while intoxicated. In many states, there is mandatory jail time for this offense. Drunk drivers usually lose their drivers’ licenses and face hefty fines, as well. Other legal problems may include other traffic offenses, getting into fights, and disorderly conduct while intoxicated.
Alchoholism causes a number of health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, and liver disease. About 15% of chronic alcoholics develop cirrhosis of the liver, which can be deadly.
Alchoholism is a disease that requires professional treatment. Treatment usually consists of several phases. It begins with an assessment by a specialist to determine the correct level of treatment for the individual.
First, an alcoholic may need to be admitted to a medical unit in order to safely detox. Any medical issues related to alcohol can be addressed at this time, as well.
Many alcoholics need to be admitted to an inpatient alcholism rehabilitation unit for intensive treatment. This treatment phase usually lasts about 21 – 28 days. Following discharge, they will be referred to outpatient care.
Outpatient alcholism treatment may consist of sessions several days per week, or may consist of simply one session per week, depending on the individual’s needs. Again, a professional assessment will determine the needed level of care. Alcoholics are often advised to attend support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, as well.
Most treatment programs include a family component, in which family members receive support for themselves, learn about the disease, and learn how to provide support to the alcoholic. The family component is an essential part of a successful treatment program.