Concepts of Wellness 08/04/2003 Alcoholism Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people in the United States today. It not only affects the alcoholic, but also their family, friends, co-workers, and eventually strangers. The symptoms are many, as are the causes and the effects. Alcoholism is defined as a pattern of drinking in which harmful consequences result for the drinker, yet they continue to drink. There are two kinds of drinkers. The first type, the casual or social drinker, drinks because they want to.

They drink with a friend or with a group for pleasure and only on occasion. The other type, the compulsive drinker, drinks because they have to, despite the adverse effects that drinking has on their lives. The symptoms of alcoholism vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms seen are changes in emotional state or stability, behavior, and personality. Alcoholics may become angry, argumentative, quiet, withdrawn or depressed... They may also feel more anxious, sad, tense, and confused. They get relief by drinking more.

Time and amount of drinking are uncontrollable, the alcoholic is likely to engage in such behaviors as breaking commitments, spending more money than planned, continuing to drink when already drunk and than drinking more, making rude comments to friends and family, and arguing along with fighting... The alcoholic would probably never do such things, nor approve of them under other circumstances unless drinking. The cause of alcoholism is a combination of biological, psychological, and cultural factors that may contribute to the development of alcoholism in a individual. Alcoholism seems to run in families. Although there is no conclusive indication of how the alcoholism of families members is associated, studies show that 50 to 80 percent of all alcoholics have had a close alcoholic relative. Children of alcoholics may be affected by the parents alcoholism in several different ways.

Having an alcoholic parent often increases the risk of the child becoming a drinker themselves. Some research has suggested that in several cases, alcoholics have an inherited, predisposition to alcoholic addiction. Alcoholism can also be related to emotional instabilities. For example, alcoholism is often associated with a family history of manic-depressive illness.

Additionally, like many other drug abusers, alcoholics usually drink hoping to drown anxious or depressed feelings. Some alcoholics drink to reduce strong inhibitions or guilt about expressing negative feelings. Social and cultural factors play roles in to establishing drinking patterns and the developement of alcoholism. In some cultures, there is conflict between abstaining and accepting the use of alcohol as a way to change moods or to be social, therefore making it difficult for some people to develope stable attitudes about and moderate patterns of drinking. Society tends to aid in the development of alcoholism by making alcohol seem glamorous, showing that by drinking, you will become more popular, more glamorous and more worthy of respect from others. The physical effects of alcoholism are somewhat gruesome.

Excessive intake and prolonged use of alcohol can cause serious disturbances in body chemistry. Many alcoholics experience swollen and tender livers. The prolonged use of large amounts of alcohol without adequate diet may cause serious liver damage, such as cirrhosis of the liver. Alcoholism also causes loss of muscular control. The condition delirium tremens, known primarily to heavy drinkers, causes hallucinations along with loss of control of muscular functions. When this condition develops and the alcoholic slows their drinking, withdrawal syndrome can and often does occur.

This may include agitation, tremors, seizures, and hallucinations. Alcoholism also causes damage to the brain. Alcoholics may suffer from lack of concentration. The alcoholic may also experience blackouts, occasional onsets of memory lapses, and possibly complete memory loss. They may also suffer more serious forms of brain damage. Alcoholism is a serious problem in todays society.

It is extremely important that the public gain as much knowledge as possible about the symptoms and effects of alcoholism is we ever want to see a reduction in the rate of fatalities and diseases caused from the use and abuse of alcohol. Education and realization of the effects that alcoholism can have on different aspects of a persons life are the best ways that we can help control the number of alcoholics in the United States.