Approximately 10 percent of people in the United States of America are known to have alcohol addiction . 5 percent of the world’s population consumes half the amount of all the alcohol produced in the world. Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol abuse or alcoholism, is a serious problem in a modern world.
Alcohol addiction is a disease
Alcohol addiction is a serious disease, described as a dependency on alcohol. There are certain features that characterize alcoholism as a medical condition. These are physical dependence , withdrawal symptoms and increased tolerance. In addition, an alcoholic feels a strong need to drink but he/she is unable to control drinking, meaning that an addict cannot stop drinking in spite of a wish to do so. Increased tolerance means that an addict can consume larger amounts of alcohol without actually getting drunk.
All medical associations describe alcohol addiction as a chronic disease. Genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors may influence development and manifestations of alcoholism. It is usually progressive and may be fatal. Among all the above mentioned features of the disease, another symptom that is very usual among addicts is a denial. People who suffer from alcoholism actually do not admit to have a problem, a disease and therefore it is hard to cure a person, who considers himself to be healthy.
Most people have a wrong imaging of alcohol addiction. Some think that alcoholism is a psychological condition. However, it cannot be treated by psychiatric methods. Alcohol addiction is also thought by some to be a moral shortcoming, although it is not. People should also stop thinking that alcohol abuse is a result of emotional problems or difficulties. And there can be no explanation that alcoholism is caused by addictive personality or certain character features. People should be aware that alcohol abuse is a medical condition that can be only cured by professional means.
Reasons of alcoholism
It is still very hard to find the reasons for alcoholism. Many people may drink considerably large amounts of alcohol without actually becoming an addict or developing a disease. However, to some people even a single sip of alcohol is dangerous since it may start a so called vicious cycle when a person needs more and more alcohol after just the first sip of it. Hence there are theories, which claim that genetic predisposition may lead to alcohol addiction . However, genes themselves can do nothing. There should be additional environmental factors for the disease to develop.
As mentioned above, denial is a very usual feature in addicts. They do not find alcohol addiction to be a disease or a problem. In addition, family members may help a person to excuse himself for drinking, blaming it on a person’s character, emotional problems and other. They may also help an addict to keep addiction to alcohol in secret. Or sometimes a person who has alcohol addiction may hide one’s problem from the closest family members and friends so that even they would know nothing about it.
Therefore it gets very hard for professionals to help such a person. There are various methods for them to reveal an addict. One of the simplest methods used in practice was created by Dr. John Ewing. It is called a CAGE questionnaire that is very simple and consists of only four following questions:
- Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
Two positive answers for a male and one for a female indicate that a person needs a further investigation.
Since even a small amount of alcohol may lead addicts to continuous alcohol abuse, a logical answer is no alcohol at all. It sounds easy in theory but is very hard in practice. Quitting drinking is not very complicated for addicts. However, staying abstinent for a longer period is a serious problem and difficulty for many addicts. They may stop drinking but will most resume their habit again. The length of the period of abstinence is very important since time is needed for psychological, physical and biochemical functions to recover.
Alcohol has long been thought to be an “innocent” substance. Many specialists now say that alcohol is one of the most widely used addictive substances in the world. While social drinking is not harmful, alcohol addiction is a serious disease that needs special care and treatment. It is essential to recognize the features of alcoholism and help people who have alcohol addiction to seek for professional help. Recovery is a gradual process and even once alcohol addiction is treated there is no guarantee that it will not be back later.