The term alcoholism has multiple and sometimes contradictory meanings. Medically, alcoholism is a condition characterized by the persistent consumption of alcohol despite adverse consequences.
Alcohol consumption is necessary for alcoholism to develop, but it does not predict it. The amount and frequency of alcohol consumed to develop alcoholism vary from person to person. The development of physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, and in some cases, withdrawal symptoms without alcohol, indicate a state of dependency. Even though we don’t fully understand the biological mechanisms involved in alcoholism, several risk factors include social environment, mental health, and genetics.
According to the World Health Organization, alcoholism is a disease. It is considered to be a chronic disease with a gradual onset and symptoms whose severity is proportional to the level of alcoholism. Alcohol dependence manifests itself in physical and psychological symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of alcoholism
The physical symptoms of alcoholism include drinking more alcohol than intended, being unable to stop drinking once it started, craving alcohol, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, blacking out after drinking, and continuing to drink even though it is causing harm.
The psychological symptoms include losing control, i.e., continuing to drink despite the obvious adverse health effects. A person with alcohol dependency may also experience social impairment in their life and that of their family.
When physical, psychological, and social symptoms of alcoholism are present, regular alcohol consumption is considered a disease.
Causes of alcoholism
It often has deep-seated psychological root causes. Various factors can lead to alcoholism, including genetics, environment, and mental health. A person’s genes may make them more prone to alcohol addiction, while others may turn to alcohol to deal with difficult feelings or problems. Depressive or anxious conditions can lead to it as well.
What are the stages of alcoholism?
There are four stages: early, middle, late, and end.
A person with early alcoholism drinks more than intended and feels the need to drink more to achieve the desired result. In times of trouble, alcohol seems like a consolation, but the habit makes stopping harder and harder.
Middle alcoholism is marked by increased drinking. People become increasingly dependent on alcohol in their everyday life. They continue drinking despite environmental concerns and tend to neglect other activities. It becomes a daily routine.
In the third stage, the addict starts experiencing physical symptoms and loses interest in other activities. Attempts to quit are frequent at this point, but withdrawal symptoms become more severe, and the person may repeatedly relapse if they try to avoid them with a drink.
At the end of alcoholism, drinkers often become physically and mentally ill. They may lose their jobs, relationships, and even their lives. Symptoms of withdrawal can include nausea, headaches, anxiety, sweating, shaking, feeling unwell, increased blood pressure and heart rate, foggy periods, and personality changes. It’s harder and harder to get out, and diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression, digestive problems, and cancer can develop as a result.
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The effects of alcoholism
Alcohol addicts drink excessively and can often cause harm to their physical health. This damage, which can be challenging to control, takes many forms. An alcoholic’s family and friends are also affected by intemperance. Additionally, alcoholism negatively affects mental health. Suicide rates were found to be much higher among alcoholics than among the general population.
People with alcoholism often continue to drink even though their health has deteriorated. Many health effects are associated with alcohol consumption, such as pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, epilepsy, and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It also increases the risk of vascular and nervous inflammation, malignant tumors, malnutrition and malabsorption, stomach ulcers, and sexual dysfunction.
Taking alcohol excessively for a long time can affect mental health. The long-term consumption of alcohol is toxic not only to the body but also to the brain. Alcoholics often suffer from mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. In most cases, these psychiatric symptoms are first aggravated during withdrawal, but they usually improve or even disappear with abstinence.
When long-term alcohol use continues, panic disorder may develop, which may also worsen or present as alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol use can also lead to severe disturbances in consciousness in the form of delirium tremens, a severe acute disorder with seizures and loss of consciousness.
Alcoholism can lead to significant social problems. The consequences of drinking or having a hangover during working hours can include job loss and financial hardship.
A drunken alcoholic’s behavior and impaired mental capacity can profoundly affect their close friends and family. This can result in divorce and marital conflict and may also contribute to domestic violence. It can also cause long-term emotional damage to kids.
An alcoholic may lose the esteem and respect of those around them.
Getting help for alcoholism
Alcoholism can be complicated to overcome, especially without help. For those who need support, a wide range of aids is available. Here are some tips on where to get aid for alcoholism.
- You should consult your doctor regarding the various treatment options; if necessary, a specialist may be referred to you.
- Get in touch with a local alcohol abuse team. You can call hotlines where you can find local resources.
- Join support groups. Alcoholism support groups are a valuable source of information. You can get in touch with people who are or were in your situation and learn a lot from them.
- Many treatment centers specialize in helping people overcome alcoholism.
The benefits of overcoming alcoholism
Overcoming alcoholism can be life-changing and offer many benefits. Getting sober gives a person a clean slate to work with. It can be liberating on an emotional and physical level. Sobriety allows for new beginnings and the opportunity to rebuild relationships that might have been damaged by alcohol abuse.
Physical health often improves dramatically after quitting alcohol. This is because the body is no longer being constantly bombarded with toxins from the drink. Over time, this can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and liver cirrhosis. Mental health also tends to improve after quitting alcohol. This is likely due to the fact that sobriety allows for self-reflection and an opportunity for personal growth.
Overall, alcoholism is a destructive disease that ruins lives. Knowing the symptoms of alcoholism can help you get help for yourself or those you know who suffer from it. Recovery is possible, but it takes effort, work, and dedication. If you are struggling with intemperance, please reach out for help. Asking for help is not shameful. Many people want to help you.