The facts of alcoholism are that it is a disease having serious social, psychological, and physical consequences. We’d like to give you some facts about alcoholism to help you better understand the disease.
To begin with, it’s important to understand that alcoholism is in fact a disease. There is a genetic component to alcoholism. If your parents were alcoholics, you have a greater risk of developing an alcohol addiction yourself than if you did not have a family history of alcoholism. Like many diseases, alcoholism is a chronic condition, meaning that it lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It has recognizable symptoms, takes a predictable course, and there is a recognized treatment for the disease.
Now that you understand these facts of alcoholism, let’s look at some of the consequences of the disease.
Some of the facts about alcoholism are that it has severe social consequences. It disrupts family life and has a strong impact on marriage and the family. It also has a devastating impact on children of alcoholics.
Alcoholics frequently withdraw from family and friends in order to hide their drinking. They may lie about their drinking, and they often have frequent arguments about their drinking behavior. They begin to plan recreational activities around drinking instead of spending time with family and friends.
The facts of alcoholism also tell us that it can cause financial problems, problems at work or school, and legal difficulties. It can affect all areas of a person’s life. Of course, this also affects the families of alcoholics.
The facts of alcoholism tell us that the disease has many psychological consequences. Alcohol use does not cause mental illness, but it exacerbates any existing mental health conditions. Since many people with psychological disorders use alcohol to “self-medicate,” this is a serious problem. Mixing alcohol with medication for psychiatric conditions is also very dangerous.
Alcohol is also a depressant. While people may drink alcohol as a way of self-medicating for depression, the facts about alcoholism tell us that that backfires on them. Alcohol only makes them more depressed in the long run.
The social problems caused by alcoholism, the health problems, and the practical difficulties such as problems at work, financial difficulties, and legal matters, all can add to depression and anxiety. These feelings simply make an alcoholic want to drink more.
Some other facts about alcoholism are that is has very serious physical consequences. Alcoholism leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, brain disease, and pancreatitis. It increases the risk for certain cancers, including cancer of the esophagus, larynx, pancreas, and stomach.
Liver disease is perhaps the best known physical consequence of alcoholism. The facts of alcoholism tell us that 15% of people who have been drinking heavily for a decade or more have cirrhosis of the liver, a serious medical condition involving scarring of the liver. The function of the liver is to remove toxins from the blood, but due to this scarring it is unable to function properly, so these toxins build up in the body and damage other organs, including the brain. The condition is deadly. The only treatment is a liver transplant, but many patients die while waiting for a liver.
It should be noted that the facts about alcoholism tell us that alcoholics will continue to drink despite these serious consequences. That is a hallmark of the disease. They do not have control over their behavior. The urge to drink is strong and overwhelming and they will continue to drink despite the consequences, usually until they get professional help.