Addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism. This form of substance addiction has devastated many lives ever since alcohol was discovered thousands of years ago. In the past, it was common to consider people afflicted with this addiction as merely weak. Modern research has shown that alcoholism is a real disease which merits treatment rather than scorn.
The symptoms of alcoholism are very similar to those of other substance addictions. However, alcoholism is complicated by its legality and some particularly harsh signs of withdrawal.
• Excessive Use
Many people divide the symptoms up into a long list, but many of the details on these lists can be boiled down to excessive use of alcohol. For example, alcoholics lose control of their ability to limit alcohol consumption.
Once the addiction is in full swing, an alcoholic is very unlikely to leave a 12-pack of beer or a bottle of wine in the house because he or she will simply drink it.
This symptom also includes high tolerance of alcohol. An alcoholic can typically drink much larger amounts than other people without showing the usual effects of drinking.
Like most addicts, an alcoholic will increasingly focus more and more attention on his or her drinking activities and less attention on social or occupational matters. The importance of friendships, romantic relationships and even career begin to wane as consumption of alcohol becomes the one key to surviving every day. This can advance to the point where the alcoholic ends up friendless, loveless and jobless.
• Withdrawal Issues
Some people are able to quit the habit, with great struggle, on their own. However, many others try and are subjected to exquisite tortures as the lack of alcohol inflicts painful symptoms.
Victims of these withdrawal symptoms have been known to tremble and see hallucinations in a combination of signs known as delirium tremens.
Causes of Alcoholism
It is still difficult for researchers to determine the exact cause of alcoholism. As with many other diseases and disorders, scientists are presently looking for genetic causes more than anything else.
It is clear from accounts and personal histories that alcoholism runs in many families. Whether it is passed down as a learned behavior or is not completely clear. Some people believe that both are true.
Given the seriousness of this addiction, it is not recommended that people try to quit on their own. Some individuals have allegedly achieved this. However, most people need support at the very least in order to relieve themselves of this burden.
The organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has become very well-known over the last few decades as a powerful agent for change in the lives of alcoholics. Their program uses a 12-step system to help people accept the problem in their life, acknowledge their powerlessness to overcome it and try to change their lives through better decisions and through making amends with those that they have hurt during their worst periods.
The typical 12-step program follows the lead of AA and includes a step that calls for subjects to seek the assistance of a higher power to change their lives. Some secular or atheist groups have created non 12-step programs that exclude this focus. Instead, they try to help individuals make changes in their lives that will support their decisions to stop using alcohol.
Alcoholism is a terrible form of addiction. Since alcohol is legal, it is much easier for people to indulge their habit for long periods without worrying about consequences. When they finally have to accept that they have a problem, alcohol has often destroyed their live irredeemably.