January 25, 2007
Do we really understand Alcoholism?
Another definition of alcoholism is alcohol dependence. Alcoholism is a disease that is characterized by four symptoms.
The first symptom is a craving or strong or need to drink. The second symptom is the loss of control. This is when a person can not stop drinking once drinking has begun. The third symptom of alcoholism is physical dependence.
After a person has stopped drinking they experience nausea, anxiety, shakiness or sweating. The fourth symptom is tolerance or the need to drink more and more alcohol to get high.
There are people who do not understand that alcoholism is a disease. These people think that a person could stop drinking if they really wanted to or had more self-control. When a person is an alcoholic their craving for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease which means it lasts a lifetime. A person who is an alcoholic will keep drinking even though serious family, health and legal problems develop. Two main things put a person at risk for developing alcoholism; a person’s genes and his or her lifestyle.
It is true that the risk for developing alcoholism tends to run in families. It does not mean that if a person has a father or mother who is an alcoholic they themselves will become an alcoholic.
The genes we inherit partly explain the pattern of alcoholism in families but lifestyle also plays a part. Other things that may increase your risk for alcoholism are the people you spend time with, the stresses in your life and the amount of alcohol that is available on a day-to-day basis.
There are also people who think that alcoholism can be cured. They find it hard to understand why an alcoholic can’t just go the doctor or through treatment, get better and be cured.
While there are millions of recovering alcoholics who have not had a drink for weeks, months or years, there is still a chance that a relapse can occur.
While alcoholism can’t be cured, the disease can be treated. There are many treatment programs available. Some may work well for certain people and other alcoholics may need a different type of program. There are medications that can help as well as counseling.
Most people who are alcoholics need help with recovery. It is a very difficult process. Many alcoholics do best when they have support and treatment.
As with any chronic disease there are different levels of success concerning treatment. There are alcoholics who can quit drinking on their own and never have another drink. Other alcoholics may go through treatment and remain sober for the rest of their lives.
Some may go for a long time without a drink and then suffer a relapse. Still others have very little success at all.
Alcoholism is a tricky disease and one that can cause serious problems for the person who drinks and also for families, friends, coworkers and even total strangers who may be injured at the hands of an alcoholic. There is help available and the longer a person is able to stop drinking the better chance he or she has of staying sober.