Many people across the world suffer from alcoholism. Alcoholism in broad terms can be classified to mean a problem with alcohol. When an individual is suffering from alcoholism, he/she is said to have a compulsive and uncontrollable high consumption of alcohol. Alcoholism is an addictive illness that affects one interpersonal relationship and social standings. Alcoholism is considered to be a disease that is characterized by constant intake of alcohol. When an individual constantly or habitually consume alcohol he/she is said to be an alcoholic. It is a disease that affects one social, mental and physical well being.
Characteristics of Alcoholism
- It involve periodic or constant use of alcohol irrespective of adverse consequences
- Impaired control over drinking as it distort one thinking capacity
- Preoccupation with alcohol
- Feeling the urge to drink
- Not able to limit the level of alcohol he or she need to consume
Causes of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a gradual alcohol dependence that can take several decades or years to become an addictive illness. With regular consumption over a period of time, alcohol level increases in the body system and disrupt a brain chemical referred to as gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). This chemical is very important as it controls impulsiveness. Another chemical that is highly affected by regular alcohol consumption is glutamate.
Glutamate is a special chemical that stimulates nervous system. Brain levels of dopamine are raised and this is what makes alcoholic to feeling a gratifying feeling during drinking. Once one becomes an addict, the level of these brain chemicals is altered and this is what makes people to constantly drink so as to feel good, relaxed and less stressed. Apart from alteration of the brain chemicals, other risk factors that contribute to alcoholism include;
Many scientists have indicated that genetic factors are one of the contributors towards alcoholism. This has been expressed through the genes that metabolize alcohol in the body of humans. This gene is usually indicated through family history of alcoholism where it is shown that those individuals who have relatives that are alcoholic are at great risk of abusing alcohol. Some journals have shown that early use of alcohol triggers the expression of genes that increases the risk of alcohol dependence at some time in life.
Studies have shown that individuals who start drinking at an early age develop the risk of alcoholism as they tend to drink excessively at early ages. Statistics released by substance abuse and mental health services (SAMHSA) have shown that 26% of alcoholic in USA are under age.
Easy Access of Alcohol
Alcoholism is usually correlated with easy access to alcohol. When alcohol becomes cheaper, many middle class individuals are able to access and use it.
Stress usually drives some individuals to alcohol. If the levels of stress and anxiety increase many tend to access alcohol in the attempt of becoming blank out so that they can forget their upheaval. A study done by national institute on alcoholism indicated that military soldiers returning from Iraq are likely to suffer from stress and emotional disorder and this may contribute to regular alcohol consumption.
Due to peer pressure among members of the same age set, alcoholism sets in. individuals who have alcohol addicts’ friends are likely to become alcoholic sometimes in future.
Low Self Esteem and Depression
Individuals who have low self-esteem are likely to start consuming alcohol once they access it. In correlation to this, depressed individuals may desperately use alcohol as a means of self treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
One very common signs of alcohol addiction is the development of some physical symptoms. This includes liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, peptic ulcers and even heart diseases. Other physical symptoms include mal-absorption, sexual dysfunction and damage to the nervous system. Due to instability contributed, immunological defects may results and this is due to increased tendency to accidents, bone fractures and skeletal fragility.
Frequent use of alcohol can cause a wide range of mental deficiency. For example, 10 % of dementia is related to alcoholism. Excess use of alcohol therefore causes damages to the brain. Due to neurotoxic effects of alcoholism social skills are impaired.
There are many social problems associated with alcohol consumption. This ranges from child abuse, domestic violence, assault and even rape. These happen since frequent alcohol consumption contribute significant pathological changes to the brain. Due to alcohol behavior and mental impairments, alcohol can profoundly affects family contributing to divorce and child neglect.
During diagnosis of alcoholism, an individual must meet certain criteria that will determine the level of addiction. America psychiatric published these criteria and laid them in diagnostic and statistical manuals of mental disorders. These criteria are important in determining whether an individual is an addict or not. These criteria include;
- Drinking beyond intentions – This is when an individual excessively drink an alcohol beverage excessively beyond what he/she was intending to drink.
- Alcohol tolerance – This is when a given individual need a large amount of alcohol for him or her to feel satisfied or intoxicated.
- Withdrawal symptoms – This is when an addict develops certain symptoms when abstaining from alcohol. Such symptoms include nausea, anxiety, tremors and even insomnia.
National Alcoholism Statistics
The national alcoholism statistics has indicated that alcohol ubiquitous has affected almost every aspect of life. Alcoholism has become practical in every sub-culture and this has made it to be an integral part in the world. Below are some of the alarming national alcoholism statistics;
Alcoholism and family violence
There is 92% of domestic violence reported in USA each year. Among them 70% usually result from alcoholism. This has result to child abuse with the statistics indicating 90,000 of children abuse every year is due to excessive family alcohol consumption.
Underage drinking is become progressively common each year. There are 2,000 children in USA who die each year due to car crash as a result of underage drinking. Each year in America, 72% of underage are reported as causal drinkers while approximate 40% are said to be binging.
Approximate 30% of traffic fatalities in America involve drunk driving. This mostly has been associated with alcohol addiction.
It’s so shocking to realize that 17.6 million people in America are diagnosed with alcohol illness or addiction. Worldwide national alcohol statistics indicates that 2.5 million individuals die from alcohol related cases every year.