What is alcoholism?

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is one of the oldest problems in the history of man. It involves an intense desire to consume alcohol despite negative consequences. Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol you drink, how long you have been drinking, or exactly how much you alcohol you consume. It has more to do with an uncontrollable need for alcohol.

What is alcoholism? Symptoms

Alcoholism, also known also known as alcohol dependence, includes the following four symptoms:

1. Craving – A strong need or urge to drink.

2. Loss of control – Not being able to stop once drinking has begun.

3. Alcohol Dependence – Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.

4. Tolerance -The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to produce the same effect.

What is alcoholism? Causes

The cause of alcoholism is still unknown, but it has been demonstrated that both genetic and environmental factors can play a role in the development of alcoholism. Both inherited and environmental influences are called “risk factors.”

What is alcoholism? Risk Factors

Psychological risk factors for alcoholism include mood disorders like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, as well as personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder. Social risk factors for alcoholism include male gender, being between 18 and 44 years of age, Native-American heritage, unmarried marital status, and lower socioeconomic status.  Environmental factors, including a person’s family’s beliefs and attitudes and exposure to a peer group that encourages alcohol use, seem to play a role in initial alcohol use. Studies also suggest that there is a genetic component to alcoholism. People who have immediate family that suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction are more likely to abuse alcohol themselves.

It is important to note, however, that a risk does not have to become a destiny. Many people with several risk factors for alcoholism never develop the disease, and some alcoholics have no risk factors at all.

What is alcoholism? Lifestyle Factors

Some of the alcoholism risk factors have nothing to do with your gender, race, mental status, marital status, or socioeconomic status. Some of them simply have to do with how you drink and how drinking affects you. Those who abstain from alcohol aren’t at risk for becoming alcoholics, so any alcohol consumption increases your risk of alcoholism. However, people who drink moderately are at much lower risk than people who drink heavily. Another one of the lifestyle alcoholism risk factors has to do with the age you are at when you start drinking. People who start drinking earlier in life have a greater chance of becoming an alcoholic. Likewise, the longer you drink, the greater chance that you will become alcoholic.

What is alcoholism? Can it be cured?

There is no cure for alcoholism at this time. However, the disease can be treated, and with continued abstinence, recovery is possible.

What is alcoholism? Treatment

Alcoholism is a disease, so alcoholics can’t “just stop” drinking or use willpower.  The majority of alcoholics need treatment in order to recover.

Alcoholism can be treated. Most alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Treatment has helped many people stop drinking, rebuild their lives and live a life in long-term recovery.

Sources:

http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/learn-about-alcohol/faqsfacts

http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/newcomers/?PageID=69

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