Alcoholism is a condition characterized by a distinct physical desire to consume alcohol even though it is beyond their capacity to control doing so. This is regardless of common sense or will power. Alcoholics have a physical compulsion and a mental obsession to consume alcohol. They may often experience craving for alcohol even at the worst possible times. The alcoholic often has no idea when or how to stop drinking.
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Alcoholics often have a certain obsession with alcohol in the long run. Alcoholism is being viewed as a chronic disease nowadays. This condition can disrupt a person's daily activities and can cause serious problems at home and at work. It can be physically, emotionally and financially draining to have an alcoholic partner.
Alcohol, when consumed moderately, cannot cause any physical or psychological harm on a person. People who consume alcohol and do not have the characteristics of alcoholism are not alcohol dependent as alcoholics are. This means that these people have not yet lost their control over their alcohol consumption. Moderate alcohol consumption can lead to social drinking which can also lead to heavier alcohol consumption and eventually alcoholism. Alcoholism can further cause serious physical and psychological health problems.
An alcoholic often exhibits several symptoms such as drinking alone, drinking secretly, no control over how much alcohol is consumed, having drinking rituals, being anxious or irritated when rituals are disturbed or commented on, drinking before or during or after work, missing out on previous hobbies because of drinking, losing interest in one's job or previous hobbies, feeling an urge to drink, irritability during drinking times especially if alcohol is not available during those times, stashing alcohol in unlikely places, gulping alcoholic drinks down in order to feel good, having relationship problems, having problems with the law, having work problems because of drinking, financial problems, and undesirable symptoms such as nausea and tremors when not drinking.
A person gradually develops dependence on alcohol within a few years to several decades. Over time, alcohol consumption can disrupt substances in the brain such as brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is a substance that controls impulsiveness; another chemical, glutamate, stimulates the nervous system. Dopamine levels in the brain are raised when we consume alcohol; this contributes to a more pleasant experience. All these chemicals contribute to alcohol craving which makes them feel good. Other risk factors can lead to excessive drinking include genes, the age when alcohol was first taken, smoking, easy access to alcohol, stress, peer drinking, low self-esteem, depression, media and advertising, and how the body metabolizes alcohol.
Alcohol Consumption in Young People
A recent study has shown that people who are heavy social drinkers and who experience greater stimulation and reward from alcohol are most likely to become alcoholics in the future. This study was published in the May 15 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. This research done by researchers from the University of Chicago is a a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that analyzed the subjective response of 104 young adult heavy social drinkers to alcohol and tracked their long-term drinking habits. The researchers found out that heavy drinkers who found pleasure from alcohol in their 20s were more likely to have alcohol-related problems during their 30s or older.
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