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What Exactly Is Alcoholism?

Jan 29, 2008
Alcoholism refers to a disease called alcohol dependence syndrome, which begins with binge drinking and over time can lead to full fledged dependency. There are different types of alcohol problems, with different levels of severity, from slightly disruptive to dangerous and life threatening.

Binge drinking is a common alcoholism related problem, most common among underage drinkers, and involves having five or more drinks for a man, or four or more for a woman, in rapid succession, often for the sole purpose of self-intoxication, i.e. drunkenness. Binge drinking becomes alcohol abuse when it begins to disrupt and interfere with a persons normal routine, and when the person continues the pattern of drinking anyway.

In terms of treatment, binge drinking can successfully be treated with intervention before it escalates into alcoholism, provided said intervention is done correctly. Often, the person in question will be unaware, or at least, not fully aware, of the affect of their alcohol use on their own lives and the lives of others, but the level of receptiveness to the intervention and subsequent treatment options will of course vary by person.

In the alcohol abuse stage of the disease, drinkers experience cravings for alcohol a loss of control when they are drinking, withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking, and an increased tolerance, leading them to think that in order to achieve the effects of previous drinking, they will now have to drink more. Someone in the alcohol dependency stage will continue to drink, despite legal, social, or interpersonal difficulties. This drinking can result in missed time at work, neglect of children and household responsibilities, and legal trouble.

Individuals who are abusing alcohol are often in denial about their condition, and tend to downplay both the amount of their alcohol intake and the negative effects that it has on their lives and the lives of others. Since alcohol is a drug that is both legal and socially acceptable, these individuals may draw on past non-abuse experience with alcohol in attempt to prove their point. Intervention at this stage will likely include admittance into an alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation program.

Alcohol dependency in its final stage is a total, all-consuming condition that affects every aspect of an individuals life. As with any type of addiction, the most common reaction to a diagnosis is denial, which is why it is so vital to seek the services of a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation program. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease, and there is some evidence that it is also an inherited one, although it should be pointed out that there is also research to suggest that with the right treatment therapy and continued and monitored counseling, these tendencies can be overcome.
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