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Understanding Alcoholism

alcoholism

Image is from DrugAbuse.com

Drinking has become entrenched in our society and it is part of our lifestyle. From toasting the bride and groom with a glass of wine or drinking during the happy hour to brush of the stresses of work, it has become a natural part of our live and this makes it difficult to establish when it becomes a problem.

For most people, moderate drinking means two drinks a day for men or one for women, this is however one end of a range that goes through alcohol abuse to full blown alcohol dependency.

Alcohol abuse

This is a drinking habit that results in adverse effects and results in the user not being able to fulfill their daily duties, whether in school, work or family obligations. At this point, it is common to find someone with legal problems as a result of drinking such as DUI or public disturbance. It also affects an individual’s ability to relate with other people.

Alcohol dependency

Also called alcoholism. This is where an individual has lost total control of their alcohol use. It is not dependent on the type of alcohol being consumed or the amount, it is solely about a person’s inability to stop drinking, either to maintain the alcohol fueled “high” or to avoid the stress and pain of withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, irritability, restlessness, tremors and even convulsions.

Alcoholism Warning Signs

The divide between social drinking and alcoholism can be blurred and many people don’t seem to know when they are on the verge of alcoholism. Below are some of the warning signs of a drinking problem:

  • If someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated.
  • Drinking more than you had planned to.
  • Mixing alcohol with other drugs.
  • Poor work or school performance due to alcohol related activities.
  • Not remembering events while you were drinking, also called blacking out.
  • Inability to relax or unwind without alcohol.
  • If relationships start suffering due to alcohol.
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed and hiding it from family and friends.
  • Avoiding family commitments due to alcohol.
  • Breaking the law under the influence of alcohol.
  • Inability to stop drinking even when you try.

Causes of Alcohol Related Disorders

There are several causes of alcoholism, they include genetics, physiological and social factors. These factors do not affect everyone in the same way. For some alcoholics, psychological factors such as low self-esteem and impulsiveness my lead them to consume alcohol while others may be affected by social factors, chief of which is peer pressure. Poverty and physical abuse may also lead to alcohol dependency.

Genetic factors also play a key role in the alcohol dependency of some people. Most people who boast how much they are able to ‘hold’ liquor may be more at risk-not less- of developing alcohol problems. The absence of a history of drinking in a family does to protect the children from developing these problems.

How Alcoholism Affects People

Small amounts of alcohol may be beneficial for the body but heavy drinking is detrimental to someone’s health. Short-term effects include hangovers, memory loss and blackouts. Long-term effects that are as a result of heavy drinking include cancer, stomach ulcers, heart problems, brain damage and liver cirrhosis.

There are other dangers to alcoholism apart from ill health. People who suffer from alcoholism tend to engage in risky activities that may cause death, they include: Driving while drunk, suicide, unprotected sex and even homicide.

Drinking problems are also associated with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and memory loss. Such preexisting conditions may be made worse by alcoholism.

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