Addiction is defined as chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, drug addiction is considered a mental illness as well as a brain disorder. In 2014, more than 21.5 million Americans suffered from this illness. Eighty percent of those individuals were struggling with the use of alcohol. Alcoholism originated from “alcohol + -ism, or else from Modern Latin alcoholismus. It was coined in 1852 by Swedish professor of medicine Magnus Huss to mean what we now would call “alcohol poisoning, effects of excessive ingestion of alcohol.” In earlier times, alcohol addiction would have been called habitual drunkenness or some such term (Harper 2018). Addiction to alcohol costs the United States over $740 billion a year related to health care, crime, and lost productivity. Alcohol poisoning kills six people every day. Of those, 76 percent are adults ages 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning are men.
Symptoms of alcoholism vary but usually, it will include repeated alcohol consumption despite legal and health-related issues. Alcoholics will sometimes start their day with a drink and then feel guilty because of it, then resulting in more alcohol consumption. One in four Americans under the age of thirty has met most of the criteria to be diagnosed with alcoholism. Most alcoholics can become self-destructive, anxious, and may blackout or experience dizziness and shakiness. A lot of young people can experience early alcoholism beginning in college during social events and pressure from peers. Young people are more likely to participate in binge drinking as a way of partying. It is important to recognize signs of binge drinking and alcoholism early in order to prevent further damage. Long-term alcohol abuse can leave permanent psychological and physical damage to the brain. There are some cases where the binging will not progress because it is just a phase but other times it could lead to more intense repercussions. There are situations when children are raised with alcoholic parents. Those children are four times more likely to experience their own type of disorder.
Alcoholism can commonly be compared to problem drinking which is much different. Problem drinking is using alcohol in a way that can negatively impact your health and your life, but the body is not physically dependent on the substance. Problem drinking can cause people to miss work or other important responsibilities. Problem drinking can create disputes between family and friends and cause people to spend money that they might not necessarily have. It may cause people to participate in illegal activities and get arrested due to their behavior. Almost 50% of all fatal car accidents are results of intoxicated driving. But what makes problem drinking different from alcoholism is the physical dependency.
Problem drinkers may run into an issue where they are forced to cut back and are then able to correct themselves and refrain from heavy drinking. Alcoholics will be given multiple opportunities to make a change in their behavior but they will inevitably return to their past drinking patterns. Alcoholics are physically incapable of regulating their intake. Alcoholism is not something that these people choose as a lifestyle. It is an uncontrollable disease. The only way for a true alcoholic to continue their life in a healthy way is to get help from a professional and cut drinking out of their life completely.
There are many treatments available for alcohol dependency. It is important to seek treatment by a healthcare professional when beginning the process of becoming sober. There are detoxification facilities at many hospitals and medical centers that will clear the toxins from your body by colon cleansing. There are also medications available to reduce the desire to drink. When being treated for alcoholism many seek help from a therapist or some kind of rehabilitation center. Aversion therapy is available to suppress unwanted behaviors but associating it with a negative experience. There are support groups available including the most common which is called AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Their goal is to encourage sobriety and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. It is a non-profit, self-supporting organization that remains completely anonymous.
Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
The symptoms of alcohol dependency vary from person to person but it is crucial that these signs be recognized. Repeated episodes of abusive behavior may be a sign that someone needs help. Though alcoholism can sometimes be confused with other problems, what defines an alcoholic is a person’s relationship to alcohol and not how they appear to the outside world in terms of their personal, professional or academic life.
Something as simple as using alcohol as a reward for hard work or always having to finish an alcoholic beverage and even another person’s unfinished beverage are just some of the characteristics of someone who has developed an abuse. The bottom line is that the alcoholic is just completely incapable and can not recognize that they have a problem. It is important that the colleagues of alcoholics do what they can to help the victims of this awful disease. Approach the alcoholic with open ears and let them know there is help to be given. Make sure to offer support and be available to listen. If the person is resistant try speaking to someone about an intervention.