Today, approximately 15 percent of Americans abuse alcohol or have developed a physical and mental dependence on the substance. When a person becomes dependent upon alcohol, they have a condition known as alcoholism. Alcoholism may be the source of a great deal of emotional, physical, and psychological stress and pain for those suffering from the condition. Still, the ability of one suffering from alcoholism to control the amount of alcohol they consume is extremely difficult. Sometimes the signs or symptoms of alcoholism are not clear to those suffering and to friends and family members. Those engaging in excessive drinking may only recognize that they have a drinking problem after they have experienced social, physical or psychological problems as a result of their condition. There is hope for those dealing with alcoholism and there are various treatment options available. Those reaching out for treatment may have access to medications, psychotherapy, and support groups that reach out to individuals identifying themselves as persons who abuse alcohol or have become physically and mentally dependent upon alcohol.
Alcoholism affects the mind and the body in a variety of ways. Because alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, it can cause an individual with alcoholism to develop depression, anxiety disorders, and feelings of apathy. If an individual habitually drinks alcohol excessively, finds it difficult to limit the amount of alcohol they consume, or creates rituals surrounding the consumption of alcohol and finds it difficult to deviate from those rituals, they may have alcoholism. In addition, having problems remembering events, feeling compelled to drink alcohol, storing alcohol in places out of the norm, or intentionally becoming drunk are among the common signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
The cause of alcoholism is still unknown. When an individual has alcohol dependence, they may have a physical and mental dependence on alcohol or they may abuse alcohol. Although the cause of this condition is unknown, having a family member with alcoholism increases the risk that a person will develop alcohol abuse or dependence. Studies are showing that genetics may be an important factor in the development of alcoholism. Having depression, anxiety, high stress levels, easy access to alcoholic beverages, and having poor self-esteem may also increase the risk of developing alcoholism.
In addition to the depressed affect alcohol can have on one’s mental state, abusing alcohol is detrimental to the body and can be fatal. The continued, excessive consumption of alcohol will lead to the deterioration of the body and its organs. Complications of alcoholism include cirrhosis of the liver, depression, insomnia, pancreatitis, suicide, nerve damage, esophageal cancer and bleeding, hepatitis, malnutrition, lasting memory loss, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), and erectile dysfunction.
The first step to treating alcoholism is acknowledgement of problem drinking. The treatment for alcoholism depends upon the severity of the alcohol abuse. Individuals believing that their level of alcohol abuse can be monitored and successfully treated in an outpatient program may choose to attend this type of a program. Individuals believing that they are totally out of control of their drinking and know that they will be more successful participating in an inpatient program may have that option. Most programs include a week-long detoxification, medical examination, psychological counseling and treatment, and possibly the use of medications that make consuming alcohol physically uncomfortable.
Up to 15 percent of Americans engage in problem drinking behavior. There are numerous options for treatment and support available to those individuals recognizing their dependence on alcohol. Individuals ready to be treated will discover a large, supportive network of groups, medical professionals, and drug treatment centers available to them. By exploring the internet for information concerning the condition, asking your medical professionals questions, and connecting with positive, recovered alcoholics an individual can access the tools they need to successfully reclaim their lives and discover healthier, more productive ways of coping.