Alcoholism refers to a chronic and progressive illness that is accompanied with problems controlling drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, continued use of alcohol even when it leads to problems, physical dependence and having withdrawal symptoms when one reduces or stops alcohol consumption.
An alcoholic cannot consistently predict how much he or she would consume, how long he will drink or the consequences that accompany such drinking. Binge drinking in persons may also lead to the similar health risks and social predicaments that are linked with alcoholism as the more a person drinks, the bigger the dangers. Thus, binge drinking, a common habit amongst teenagers may lead to quicker development of alcoholism.
Signs and symptoms
Alcoholism signs and symptoms include the inability to limit the amount of alcohol intake, a strong compulsion to drink, development of tolerance to alcohol so that one requires more to feel its effects, drinking alone or hiding while drinking, physical removal symptoms like nausea, sweating and shaking; forgetting commitments or conversations which is often referred to as black-out.
The victim may make a custom of drinking at given times and turn out to be irritated when this habit is interfered with. Other problems include, irritation when the normal drinking time nears and mostly when the alcohol is not there, lose interests in activities that previously brought pleasure, have problems with relationship, problems with finance as a result of drinking, intentionally becomes drunk to feel better or normal'; and keeping alcohol in unusual places.
Alcoholism in individuals may be caused by social, environmental, genetic and psychological factors that impact greatly on the body and behavior. Addiction is a gradual process although others have an abnormal response to alcoholic drinks from the commencement of drinking. When a person consumes alcohol over a long period, the normal balance of chemicals and nerve tracks in his or her brain that is responsible for pleasure, judgment and control of the person's behavior is changed. It is because of those changes that the craving for alcohol to restore good feeling or to remove negative emanates.
The risk factors associated with alcoholism include a physical dependency on alcohol due to steady drinking over time, those who start drinking at an early age are at high risk of problem drinking, affects people who have an alcoholic parent or relatives, depression and other mental disorders like anxiety or bipolar disorder. The risk of mixing medication with alcohol increases toxic effects or decreases their effectiveness or may even become fatal; and social cultural factors sending wrong messages to close friends and relatives about alcohol consumption.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and to others, the initial reaction could be stimulation then one later becomes sedated. Further, alcohol consumption reduces one's inhibitions and affects thoughts, emotions, judgment, speech, muscle coordination and vital brain centers. At times, heavy alcohol intake leads to death or coma.
When inhibitions are lowered, dangerous situations might arise such as domestic problems, motor vehicle accidents, poor work performance and likelihood of committing crimes. Health complications may be liver disease, digestive problems, heart problems, diabetes, sexual function and menstruation, eye problems, birth defects, bone loss, neurological complications, weakened immune system and increased risk of cancer.
Treatment for alcoholism may entail a number of methods such as detoxification and withdrawal, learning skills and setting up treatment plan, psychological counseling, oral medication, injected medication, continuing support, treatment for psychological problems and medical treatment for other conditions like blood pressure, high blood sugar, liver disease and heart disease; and regular spiritual practice to assist in maintaining recovery from alcoholism or other addictions.