Alcoholism – Don’t Ignore It

Judith Hayes

Alcoholism affects more than 17 million Americans. The number is staggering and the consequences are deadly. No one is immune to alcoholism. Many of those suffering from this disease are professionals, such as doctors, teachers, business owners, lawyers, judges, and even clergy. Over 10 thousand men, women, and children lose their lives annually to drunk drivers. The need for alcoholism treatment is at a critical juncture, and public awareness is needed if we are to reduce the serious results of alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism Defined
Alcoholism refers to the behaviors and mental illness resulting from an addiction to alcoholic beverages and products containing alcohol. Alcoholism treatment programs are offered to help the addict stop drinking and to modify risky behavior. Addiction recovery is possible and offers the addict a chance to regain self-respect and a normal life.

History of Alcoholism
There is evidence that alcoholic beverages and addiction to alcohol existed in early Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Fruit juice, honey, and fermented grains were the elements used in the first alcoholic drinks. The citizens of Babylon designated and worshipped a wine goddess and drank in her honor.

Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction – The Differences
Sometimes the line blurs between abuse and addiction. When that happens, the drinker is in dangerous territory mentally and physically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a pattern of behavior associated with abuse that includes shirking work or school responsibilities, arrest of other legal complications due to alcohol use, ignoring the pleas of friends and family to cut back on drinking, and doing dangerous activities while under the influence. The CDC warns drinkers there is a fine line between abuse and alcoholism, which is easy to cross. Alcoholism is a chronic disease of total dependency. Intense carvings and the inability to stop drinking even with threats of job, friend, and family loss define alcoholism. Without treatment the alcoholic will rapidly suffer serious physical and mental health problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholics are driven by the compulsion to drink and are unable to limit the amount they consume. A tolerance is developed that continually requires more and stronger drink to feel the desired effects. Drinkers often try to hide their activities and almost always imbibe when they are alone. When it’s not possible to drink due to location or lack of a beverage, withdrawal symptoms include tremors, sweating, and nausea. Memory blackouts are common, and whole conversations can be forgotten. Hiding alcohol in unusual places is another symptom indicative of the secretive nature of this disease. Other signs include problems at work, with family, and friendships. When the addict wants a drink, he or she will become agitated and irritable if their desire is questioned or delayed. If you or someone you love is displaying any of these symptoms, seek out professional help before his or her condition worsens.

Treatment for Alcoholism
A variety of treatment programs have proven effective in combating alcoholism and aiding addicts with recovery. Detox is the first step in every recovery program. The body must first be rid of the poisonous toxins accumulated during drinking. Detox is safest and most effective when performed under the supervision of trained medical specialists. There is always a risk of a health issue arising during detox, which is why it should never be done at home. Treatment programs include inpatient, which is preferred for those who have been addicted for a long time and when there are any health concerns, such as liver disease. For individuals that must keep working, successful outpatient programs are highly effective in helping people take back control of their lives with the support of family and the professional team. Ignoring treatment can result in serious medical issues, including cancer, kidney failure, and liver disease.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, there are people who want to help you. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or other professional about receiving treatment.

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