Alternative NamesAlcoholism, Alcohol dependence, Alcohol abuse
What is Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterizing by the dependence on alcohol. If you are dependent on alcohol you lose control over your drinking. You are unable to control the process of alcohol consumption, how much you drink or how long you drink. People suffering from alcoholism continue to drink even though they know it is causing problems with their relationships, health, work or finances.
You may have a problem with alcohol but not have all the symptoms of alcoholism (alcohol abuse). It means that you drink too much and it causes problems in your life although you are not completely dependent on alcohol. If you abuse alcohol, you need help, including medications, counseling and self-help groups.
Signs and symptoms
- Craving - a strong need to drink
- Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun
- Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
- Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high"
The possible complications of alcoholism include the followings:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Alcoholic polyneuropathy
- Automobile accidents
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Oral cancer
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Pharyngeal cancer
- Violent behavior
Scientists do not know why some people abuse alcohol or become addicted to it and others do not. Some people are genetically exposed to alcoholism, but your drinking habits also are influenced by your environment and life situations such as friends or stress levels.
It is very important to prevent alcoholism at an early stage. For young people, the risk of addiction depends on the influence of parents, friends and other role models; susceptibility to advertising; how early in life they begin to consume alcohol; the psychological need for alcohol and genetic factors that may increase their risk of addiction.
You can prevent teenage alcohol consumption. You should begin with setting a good example with your own alcohol use. It is very important to talk frankly with your child and spend quality time together, but respect your child's need for independence. Let your child know what behavior you expect and what the consequences will be if he or she does not follow the rules.
Group therapy, counseling and alcohol education exist to treat alcohol abuse and dependence. You also may need medicine. In most cases, a 12-step program is part of treatment and continues after treatment completes.
Treatment help you manage problems in your daily life so you do not have to depend on alcohol. You will get to know good reasons to stop drinking.
Treatment helps you overcome dependence, but it does not happen immediately. Recovery from alcohol abuse or dependence-staying sober-is a lifelong process that takes commitment and effort.