About Alcoholism Info


Alcoholism is a progressive degenerative disease that includes the following four components:

  • Craving

  • Physical dependence

  • The loss of control

  • Tolerance

Please note that alcoholism is also known as alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence.

There are many different issues and alcoholism facts that need to be studied in order to better understand this damaging disease.

More explicitly, there are health, emotional, behavioral, social, and physical facets of this disease that result in predictable and observable health hazards and destructive behaviors that together form the effects of alcoholism.

Unfortunately alcoholism is a disease that will eventually result in debilitating and life threatening circumstances unless the alcohol dependent person gets immediate professional alcoholism help.


Drinking Alcohol in Moderation

According to alcohol abuse research, one of the important facts about alcoholism is that for most people who drink, alcohol is a pleasant experience, especially when they engage in social activities and drink in moderation.

Moderate alcohol use can be defined as having up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. It can be mentioned that in most instances, drinking in moderation is not harmful for most adults.

A large number of people, however, simply cannot have any alcoholic drinks because of the problems they encounter when drinking.

In fact, approximately 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.

Although this number is not huge when compared with all of the people who drink in this country, 14 million "problem drinkers" is a substantial number of people, nonetheless.

Moreover, according to recent studies, it has been discovered that approximately 53% of adults in the United States have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem.

Alcoholism Effects

One of the main alcoholism facts shows that the effects of alcoholism are not only serious, but in many cases, fatal.

For example, chronic, heavy drinking can increase the risk for certain cancers, such as cancer of the throat, kidneys, larynx, liver, esophagus, and the rectum.

Furthermore, excessive and irresponsible drinking can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage, harm to the fetus while the mother is pregnant, problems with the immune system, and chronic alcoholism.

Additionally, drinking increases the risk of death from motor vehicle accidents as well as recreational and work-related injuries.

Not only this, but suicides and homicides are more likely to be committed by people who have been drinking.

In simple economic terms, alcohol-related issues and problems in the United States cost society almost $200 billion per year.

In human terms, the cost of the following alcohol-related issues, many of which are directly or indirectly related to the effects of alcoholism, cannot be calculated: fatalities, broken homes, illnesses, wife battering, child abuse, injuries, failed health, and destroyed lives.

Based on alcoholism facts and statistics, the bottom line is that all of the effects of alcoholism are dangerous, unhealthy, and almost always result in someone losing his or her life unless the alcoholic gets professional alcoholism help and learns more relevant alcoholic info.

Statistics About Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Unfortunately, the full extent of the damaging effects of alcoholism are not usually comprehended until some relevant statistics and facts about alcoholism are discussed.

According to a number of research studies, the following alcohol abuse and alcoholism facts and statistics were discovered:

  • More alcoholism is being found in the elderly now that more baby boomers are retiring.

  • Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $220 billion in 2005. This dollar amount was more than the cost associated with cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).

  • 3 million Americans over the age of 60 are alcohol-dependent or alcohol abusers.

  • 20% of suicide victims in the United States are alcoholic.

  • Long-term, heavy alcohol use is the leading cause of illness and death from liver disease in the U.S.

  • In 2001, the highest rates for alcohol-related fatal crashes in the United States were recorded for drivers 21-24 years old (33%), followed by ages 25-34 (28%), and 35-44 (25%).

  • In the United States, almost three times as many men (9.8 million) as women (3.9 million) are problem drinkers.

  • Most individuals who use alcohol stop at the "experimental or recreational" stage. For a variety of complex reasons, some users progress to dependency. Without intervention that use becomes habitual and evolves into physical and psychological addiction.

  • According to one study, alcohol use is a factor in 40% to 60% of auto accidents resulting in personal injury or death among American college students.

  • American youth who drinking before the of age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than young people who do not drink before the age of 21.

  • Although there are fewer deaths from alcohol related causes than from heart disease or cancer, alcohol-related fatalities tend to occur at much younger ages.

  • In 1998 in the United States, 1,668 drivers from the ages of 16 to 20 were involved in alcohol-related fatal motor vehicle crashes. Another 21,000 were involved in alcohol-related accidents that resulted in injury.

  • Individuals in stable marriages have the lowest incidence of lifetime prevalence of alcoholism (8.9%) as opposed to co-habiting adults who have never been married (29.2%).

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Many people think that alcohol abuse and alcoholism are the same.

This is incorrect and something that is clearly not based on the facts about alcoholism.

Alcohol abuse, unlike alcoholism, does not include physical dependence, loss of control due to drinking, or an extremely strong desire for alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following circumstances in a twelve-month period of time:

  • Drinking in situations that can result in physical injury. Examples include driving a vehicle or operating machinery.

  • Failure to attend to important responsibilities at work, home, or school.

  • Experiencing recurring alcohol-related legal problems. Examples include getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, for damaging someone's property, or for physically hurting someone while drunk.

  • Continued drinking in spite of ongoing relationship problems that are the result of drinking.

A Definition of Alcoholism

Also known as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, alcoholism is a disease that includes the following symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong and continuing compulsion or need to drink.

  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking after a period of excessive drinking. Such symptoms include: anxiety, sweating, nausea, and "the shakes."

  • Loss of control: The inability to limit one's drinking over time or on any given occasion.

  • Tolerance: The need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol in order to "feel a buzz" or to "get high."

Keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant as asserted by many individuals who believe that drinking helps them "open up" and become more energized in social situations.

It is this fact, most interestingly, that may help explain the relatively "normal" incidence of alcoholism and depression in the same individual.

Not only this, but according to substance abuse and alcoholism research, when an individual manifests both alcoholism and depression, it is important for this person to get treatment for both of these medical conditions.

Professional Alcohol Treatment

It is important to point out that if you observe your friends or family members exhibiting any of the above symptoms or behaviors, consider them as signs of alcoholism or symptoms of alcoholism.

And if your friends or family members do, in fact, manifest some of these signs or symptoms, they may need professional alcoholism help.

More exactly, they may need an alcoholism diagnosis, alcoholism counseling, or they may need to enter a hospital, treatment center, or rehab facility if they are to significantly reduce the effects of alcoholism or the negative consequences of chronic alcohol abuse that they have been experiencing.

Regrettably, numerous individuals who are not alcoholic or who drink moderately fail to comprehend why an alcohol dependent person can't simply use self-control or willpower to abstain from drinking.

In most circumstances, however, alcoholism has little to do with willpower or with being strong and "fighting" the temptation to drink.

Indeed, alcohol addicted individuals are caught in a relentless, uncontrollable compulsion for alcohol that takes priority over their ability to stop drinking and to think from a common sense, reality-based perspective.

Indeed, this need to drink for the alcoholic can be as powerful as his or her need for food or water.

An Alcoholism Cure?

While there is no known cure for alcoholism, recovery from alcoholism, though difficult, is possible.

Even though some individuals are able to recover from alcohol dependency without clinical or medical help, many, if not most, alcoholics need professional treatment and counseling for their addiction.

The good news, however, is this: through treatment, education, counseling, and support, many alcoholics are able to abstain from drinking and rebuild their lives.

Causes of Alcoholism

A question that has entered the minds of more than a few people is the following: why can some people drink alcohol without experiencing any major problems or any negative consequences while others cannot?

Stated differently, why do some heavy drinkers experience many of the effects of alcoholism while others do not?

One answer to this question involves the genetic makeup of various individuals.

More specifically, researchers have discovered that having an alcoholic family member significantly increases the risk of developing alcoholism.

In fact, there may be a genetic predisposition for certain individuals to become dependent on alcohol.

In addition, substance abuse scientists have found that various environmental factors can interact with an individual's genetics.

Examples include peer pressure, the relative ease of getting alcohol, where and how a person lives, a person's culture, and an individual's family and friends.

It must be emphasized, however, that few, if any people have the same genetic background AND the environmental factors that can cause alcoholism.

This, perhaps more than any other explanation, reveals why identical twins frequently do not exhibit the same drinking behavior or, if abusive drinkers, do not suffer the effects of alcoholism or the consequences of alcohol abuse in the same way.

Origins of Alcoholism

The following quote by William Swegan in an article entitled The Psychology of Alcoholism, represents one of the best summaries for the origins alcoholism we have found.

"The excessive use of alcoholic beverages in our society becomes a trap for the person with emotional problems, as well as for those with a genetic or physical predisposition to becoming addicted to this drug. Alcohol is a socially acceptable beverage in our culture, and most individuals do not intentionally drink compulsively.

For vast numbers of people, becoming trapped occurs as a gradual process of falling into greater and greater physical and psychological dependence.

However, a small portion of those who drink exhibit extremely negative behavior traits from the onset, as one can see from my own case.

Even then, however, the problems progress and the consequences continue to grow worse and worse as the person continues to drink.

Those who become trapped in compulsive drinking ultimately become rehabilitated, or descend into a useless life of total alcohol dependence, or die."

The above quote was made by William Swegan, the "father of military alcoholism" and the spokesperson for the early Alcoholics Anonymous movement.

In 1949, William Swegan studied at the Yale School of Alcohol Studies. In 2003 Mr. Swegan wrote a book entitled On the Military Firing Line in the Alcoholism Treatment Program: The Air Force Sergeant Who Beat Alcoholism and Taught Others to Do the Same.

Chapter 15 in this book is entitled "The Effects of Alcohol on Our Emotional Development." The Psychology of Alcoholism was adapted from Chapter 15 of the aforementioned book.

Alcohol Mixed Messages

Drinking alcohol is pervasively and intimately engrained in our society. Yet in all 50 states, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% will result in a DUI or DWI if the driver is caught by the police.

Are people in this country, therefore, receiving mixed messages about drinking alcohol?

Something obviously is not right in our society and the way in which it views alcohol.

If drinking two or three alcoholic drinks per day is considered dangerous to one's health AND can result in a DUI or DWI-related fatality, perhaps it's time that the number of drinking establishments is significantly reduced and/or the availability and accessibility of alcohol is restricted.

Given the facts about alcoholism that have resulted from alcohol addiction research, doesn't this make sense?

Stated differently, if drinking can lead to alcoholism by so many people in our society and result in the effects of alcoholism such as severe health problems and alcohol-related injuries and fatalities, perhaps alcohol should not be as glamorized and advertised in our society.

Information About Teen Alcoholism

Exposure to the relevant facts about alcoholism is especially important concerning teens who are heavy, irresponsible drinkers.

Clearly, if a teenager can read about, understand, and react in a healthy manner to information about the effects of alcoholism and to the statistics regarding teen alcoholism, many teenagers will be more able to avoid the negative consequences that are associated with teenage alcoholism in school, college, or in the workplace.

This kind of "alcohol awareness" and exposure to the important facts about alcoholism, it is asserted, will go a long way towards alcoholism prevention in our youth.

Conclusion: About Alcoholism Info

One of the key facts about alcoholism is that for most people who drink, alcohol is a pleasant experience, especially when they engage in social functions.

In the majority of cases, therefore, drinking in moderation is not harmful for most adults.

A relatively large number of people, however, simply cannot consume ANY alcoholic beverages due to the negative consequences they experience when drinking.

Interestingly, the more a person reads about and understands the facts about alcoholism, the more the consequences of this disease can become apparent and the more an individual can becomes able to either avoid this disease or seek treatment and start the alcohol recovery process if he or she suffers from this disease.

One thing, however, is clear: the more and the longer people drink in an abusive and excessive manner the more likely they will experience the negative outcomes associated with chronic alcohol abuse or suffer from the effects of alcoholism.

Research demonstrates the fact that alcohol is not a stimulant but a depressant.

This fact contradicts the contention made by more that a few individuals that alcohol is a stimulant since it helps them face social situations more easily and with more confidence.

Due to the fact that alcohol is indeed a depressant, what's more, this may help explain the fairly typical occurrence of alcoholism and depression in the same person.


The Bottom Line

The important point to keep in mind regarding this article is the following: the more alcohol is consumed in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that the drinker will become an alcoholic.

If this describes you, then you need to be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as possible.