Alcoholism is a disease that occurs when a person develops an addiction to alcohol. This is usually due to excessive drinking over an extended period of time and is a chronic disease. Although it has a different effect on each individual suffering from the disease, Alcoholism is indiscriminately damaging to the body and psyche. Even though its effects may not be instantly recognizable, alcoholism is increasing in our society every day, with 1 in 6 Americans currently suffering alcohol abuse.
Who is at risk for alcoholism?
Alcoholism can affect anyone who consumes too much alcohol on a regular basis but some people are more prone to it than others. Those who have a parent who has suffered from alcoholism are at additional risk for developing alcoholism as are those suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or low self-esteem.
“Too much” alcohol is defined as:
– Men who have 15 or more drinks per week
– Women who have 12 or more drinks per week
– Anyone who has 5 or more drinks per occasion at least once a week
Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholism can be a subtle disease and even those suffering from the condition can have a hard time recognizing their problem. There are some red flags that experts have identified that can point to the possibility of alcoholism. These include frequent intoxication, an established pattern of heavy drinking, and blackout drinking. Any type of continual alcohol abuse is a sign of alcoholism, particularly when the abuse continues even after it causes problems in a person's life.
Effects of Alcoholism
Alcoholism has a negative effect on the entire body, including long-term physical effects. It causes damage to both the brain and the liver, which can lead to permanent disability and death. The nervous and cardiovascular systems will become damaged as well and a diminished response time in both will become increasingly recognizable as the disease progresses. In addition, alcoholism causes mental and emotional problems that can be very damaging to a person’s lifestyle and relationships.
Overcoming alcoholism alone can be very difficult and even impossible for many people. Seeking treatment is the first step to learning to manage alcoholism and live a happier, more productive life.