Alcoholism is a serious issue for millions of people all over the world. Alcoholism can also be referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse. What alcoholism really is, however, is an addiction. Specifically, alcoholism is a drug addiction. Many people don’t think of alcohol as a drug, but it is. Alcohol creates an altered state of consciousness and impairs you physically and physiologically, and that makes it a drug.
How do you know if someone has alcoholism? You first need to know what alcoholism is exactly. Alcoholism can be described as a “compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages” despite the negative effects it has in a person’s life. If someone has relationship, work, money, legal, or health problems either directly or indirectly related to alcohol consumption, but they don’t stop drinking, then they have alcoholism.
Alcoholism is also a disease, because addiction is a disease. Addiction can also be considered a mental illness, and some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction. One of the biggest misconceptions regarding alcoholism is that it’s the result of a person’s moral failing and irresponsibility. In reality, alcoholism is a chronic, biological disease that has no cure, and it affects a person’s brain chemistry. Alcohol has different effects on the body and mind of an alcoholic than it does on a non-alcoholic.
There are four main characteristics associated with alcoholism. Not all of these characteristics need to be obvious for alcoholism to be at work, but they are all part of the addiction. The characteristics are:
-Cravings: An alcoholic will feel a strong, unexplained desire to drink.
-Loss of Control: An alcoholic is unable to control or stop their drinking.
-Tolerance: An alcoholic will need an ever-increasing amount of alcohol to feel the effects.
-Withdrawal: An alcoholic may feel withdrawal symptoms when they’re unable to drink. Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, headache, vomiting, insomnia, irritability, agitation, mood swings, restlessness, shaking hands, sensitivity to light and sound, and depression.
Many people with alcoholism are in denial about their condition and refuse to admit it. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between someone who sometimes drinks irresponsibly and someone who has the deeper issue of alcoholism. Here are some more signs that can indicate alcoholism:
-Neglecting responsibilities like work, school, and chores.
-Skipping out on social activities in favor of drinking.
-Quitting hobbies and recreational activities.
-Deteriorating health and personal hygiene.
-Stashes of alcohol in odd places.
-Drinking more than intended.
-Blacking out from drinking.
-Taking risks while drinking or in order to drink.
-Drinking alone or in secret.
-Needing to drink to de-stress or feel happy.
There are lots of ways to get treatment for alcoholism. There are some medications that can help a person detox safely from alcohol (doing so cold turkey can result in seizures or death). Group or individual counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous, inpatient or outpatient rehab, holistic medicine, and a focus on spirituality are all ways to treat alcoholism, and different things work for different people.