What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits. It is also commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is organised into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. Each category has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control.
Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol. This can lead to a wide range of issues and impact professional goals, personal matters, relationships and overall health. Over time, the serious side effects of consistent alcohol abuse can worsen and produce damaging complications.
Many people ask, "what is alcoholism?" Alcoholism is a disease characterised by the habitual intake of alcohol. The definition of alcoholism is chronic alcohol use to the degree that it interferes with physical or mental health, or with normal social or work behaviour.
Alcoholism is a disease that produces both physical and psychological addiction. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that reduces anxiety, inhibition, and feelings of guilt. It lowers alertness and impairs perception, judgment, and motor coordination. In high doses, it can cause loss of consciousness and even death. Alcoholism is a disease that damages the brain, liver, heart and other organs.
Spotting the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is not always easy. Alcoholism is a disease that can be seen through drinking-related arrests or job loss, but they tend to happen late in the disease.
Many signs occur earlier, yet are harder to detect. These signs include:
- An increasing tolerance to the effects of alcohol. You may have heard the expression that someone can "hold their liquor." This is not a sign that this person will not have problems with alcohol; in fact, this may be an early sign of alcoholism as a disease.
- A growing preoccupation with or interest in drinking. Also drinking alone or drinking before an activity where there will be drinking. It may seem as though one simply enjoys drinking. We now know that these can be part of the definition of alcoholism.
- A person will dispute their drinking is a problem. This symptom, called denial, is almost always present in the disease of alcoholism.
Other signs and symptoms closely matching the definition of alcoholism are:
- Hiding alcohol or sneaking drinks
- Gulping the first few drinks
- Wanting to drink more, or longer, than the rest of the crowd
- Losing control of drinking, leading to attempts to control it ("going on the wagon")
It is very important to seek help early as alcoholism is a disease. As the disease progresses, severe health problems can occur in almost everybody.
When it comes to treatment the situation is just as complex and confusing, Perhaps, if anything, it is even more challenging for the sufficiently hardy and daring to undertake the treatment of those labelled “alcoholic” in our society. For many years an aura of hopelessness surrounded anybody who in one way or another acquired this diagnosis and anyone who dealt with him.
Alcoholism is also known as dependence and alcohol use disorder. It occurs when you drink so much that your body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When this happens, alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life.
People with alcohol dependence will continue to drink even when drinking causes negative consequences, like losing your job. They may know that their alcohol use negatively affects their lives, but it's often not enough to make stop drinking.
Some people may drink alcohol to the point that it causes problems, but they're not physically dependent on alcohol. This is sometimes referred to as alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism is considered a disease.
Like other addictions, it's a compulsion that worsens over time. Alcoholics drink to ease their emotional pain and emptiness. Some try to control their drinking and may be able to stop for a while, but once alcohol dependency takes hold, most find it impossible to drink like non-alcoholic.
When they try to curb their drinking, they eventually end up drinking more than they intend despite their best efforts not to.
No matter what they say, they aren't drinking because of you, nor because they're immoral or lack of willpower. They drink because they have a disease and an addiction They deny this reality and rationalize or blame their drinking on anything or anyone else. Denial is the hallmark of addiction.
What causes alcoholism?
The cause of alcoholism is still unknown. Alcohol dependency develops when you drink so much that chemical changes in the brain occur.
These changes increase the pleasurable feelings you get when you drink alcohol, which makes you want to drink more often, even if it causes harm. Eventually, just like other drugs of abuse, the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol use go away and a person with alcohol dependency will engage in drinking to prevent withdrawal symptoms, which can be quite unpleasant and even dangerous. Alcoholism typically develops gradually over time, and its also known to run in families.
Full blown alcoholism is a frequent consequence of long-term alcohol abuse; as the body begins to adapt to the constantly heightened blood alcohol level, it becomes physically dependent on the presence of that alcohol in order to function, even for the most basic of tasks. There are two major warning signs of developing alcoholism; first, as the body begins to adjust to the increased intake of alcohol, a person’s tolerance of alcohol increases, and they find themselves needing to drink greater and greater amounts in order to feel buzzed or drunk. Second, once the body reaches high levels of tolerance and the dependency begins to form, a person will begin to go into withdrawal after even just a short time without drinking. Withdrawal from any chemical dependency can result in some potentially dangerous symptoms, which is one of the reasons that alcoholics need external help and support in order to safely quit drinking.