Info On Alcoholism

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What is alcoholism? Alcoholism is a progressive degenerative disease that includes the following four symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance.

There are psychological, social, behavioral, health, and physical facets of alcoholism that need to be studied in order to better understand this devastating and incapacitating disease.

Typical Drinking Behavior

For most individuals who drink, alcohol is an enjoyable experience, especially when they are engaged in social or recreational functions.

Moreover, in most circumstances, drinking in moderation is not harmful for most adults.

A relatively large number of individuals, however, cannot have any alcoholic beverages because of the problems they encounter when drinking.

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

Furthermore and according to recent research, it has been found that approximately 53 percent of adults in the U.S. have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem.

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Statistics such as these indicate some serious drinking problems for a sizeable group of American citizens.

Damaging Consequences of Alcoholism

The effects of alcoholism are not only serious, but in many cases, fatal. Indeed, excessive drinking can increase the risk for certain cancers, such as cancer of the kidneys, throat, rectum, larynx, liver, and of the esophagus.

Additionally, heavy drinking can also lead to brain damage, harm to the fetus while the mother is pregnant, cirrhosis of the liver, and problems with the immune system.

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

If this wasn't enough, homicides and suicides are more likely to committed by individuals who have been drinking.

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

In human terms, the cost of the following alcohol-related circumstances, however, cannot be calculated: broken homes, injuries, child abuse, fatalities, failed health, destroyed lives, illnesses, and wife battering.

Alcoholism Statistics

Regrettable, the full impact of the destructive consequences of alcoholism are not typically understood until relevant alcoholism-related statistics are overtly stated.

Consequently and in an attempt to add some additional info on alcoholism, the following alcoholism statistics, obtained from various online research studies and surveys, will be discussed:

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

  • More than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.

  • The 25.9% of underage drinkers who are alcohol abusers and alcohol dependent drink 47.3% of the alcohol that is consumed by all underage drinkers.

  • 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).

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

  • Children of alcoholics demonstrate a three- to four-time increased risk of developing alcoholism.

  • The 9.6% of adult alcoholics drink 25% of the alcohol that is consumed by all adult drinkers.

  • 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.

  • 95% of alcoholics die from their disease and die approximately 26 years earlier than their normal life expectancy.

  • U.S. research studies on twins strongly suggest a very strong genetic link to alcoholism.

  • In a study conducted in 38 States and the District of Columbia, areas with greater numbers of drinking establishments had higher rates of alcoholism.

Many individuals think that alcohol abuse and alcoholism are the same. This is not correct.

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

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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

A Definition of Alcoholism

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

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

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

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

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

Alcoholism Treatment

The Treatment of Alcoholism. It is significant to emphasize that if you notice your family members or friends manifesting any of the above behaviors, consider talking to them about going to their family doctor for a professional evaluation.

Indeed, they may need alcoholism counseling or they may need alcohol rehab at a treatment center or hospital if they are to attain alcoholism health or alcoholism recovery.

Many times, people who are not alcoholic fail to understand why an alcoholic simply cannot use willpower or self-control to stop drinking.

In most circumstances, however, alcoholism has little to do with willpower or with being strong.

Alcoholics are caught in the compelling grip of an uncontrollable need for alcohol that takes precedence over their ability to quit drinking.

Indeed, this need to drink for the alcoholic may be as strong as his or her need for food, water, or shelter.

An Alcoholism Cure? While a cure for alcoholism has not been discovered, recovery from alcoholism is, indeed, possible.

Although some individuals are able to recover from alcohol dependency without professional assistance, many, if not most, alcoholics need medical or clinical help so that they can recover from their disease.

Fortunately, however, many alcoholics are able to refrain from drinking and rebuild their lives through support, counseling, treatment, and/or rehab.

Causes of Alcoholism

Some Possible Causes of Alcoholism. A question that has entered the minds of many individuals is the following: why can some people drink alcohol without any negative effects while others cannot?

One answer to this question involves genetics. More to the point, alcoholism researchers have found that having an alcoholic family member increases the risk of developing alcoholism.

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

In addition, researchers have discovered that different environmental factors can interact with a person's genetics.

Examples include where and how a person lives, peer influence, a person's culture, one's family and friends, and the relative ease of obtaining alcohol.

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 spokesperson for the early Alcoholics Anonymous movement.

Conclusion: Info On Alcoholism

With respect to drinking alcohol, one of the key points to remember is that for most individuals who drink, alcohol is a pleasant and an enjoyable experience, particularly when people engage in recreational and social activities.

In the majority of cases, furthermore, 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 info on alcoholism, the more the dangers of this disease become apparent and the more an individual becomes able to prevent this disease before it ever starts.

What is the cost of alcoholism in the United States?

In simple economic terms, alcohol-related problems cost society roughly $200 billion per year.

In human terms, unfortunately, the cost of the following alcohol-related issues and problems cannot be calculated: illnesses, child abuse, failed health, destroyed lives, wife battering, fatalities, broken homes, and injuries.

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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 rehab as soon as possible.

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