Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Many people face it everyday. More than 18 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from alcoholism, often unknowingly to their friends and family. It is a severe disease with many symptoms that need to be treated.
Symptoms and Signs of the Disease
There are various symptoms and signs that can pinpoint those who have the disease. People with alcoholism actually crave alcohol. They constantly feel as though they want and need a drink. The disease also leads to a loss of control. Once someone with alcoholism starts drinking, they cannot find the will to stop. They feel like they need to keep drinking continually. This leads to a strong tolerance for alcohol. It takes a lot more for an alcoholic to feel drunk than it does for someone who rarely drinks. This means increased drinking and further symptoms. Those who drink regularly will become dependant on alcohol. Without it in their system, they will experience signs of withdrawal. This includes sweating, dizziness, and shakiness.
Behavioral issues may come into play. Those who have not yet had alcohol and feel they need it may become agitated and aggressive. They may suffer from anxiety and discontent. They may also show compulsive behavior and become self-destructive.
Causes of Alcoholism
People do not set out to be alcoholics. It often starts with a drink here and another there. It then gradually develops to a drink each day, and then a few each day. A chemical balance changes in the brain, leading to the addiction. The regular use of alcohol can lead to an addicting feeling of wanting a drink each day. Eventually, the problem exacerbates and leads to complete alcoholism. The disease is also known to run in families. This means a parent who suffers from alcoholism is more likely to have a child that suffers from the disease as well.
Treating alcoholism, or any type of addiction, is not the same as treating a medical disease. It takes a lot of work and patience for any party involved. The treatment typically starts with going through withdrawal. The process may be painful, but the body needs time to detox from the alcohol. All alcohol must leave the system. Rehabilitation is a valid option, as it allows people the time needed to get away from alcohol and learn how to cope with being around it. Counseling and support groups are also ideal.
Medications may also be prescribed. Some medications work to improve health issues related to the overuse of alcohol. Others are meant for fighting the addiction. Naltrexone, for example, is a medication that helps block receptors in the brain that associate alcohol with a good feeling.
Alcoholism is a serious disease that requires time to treat. There is no one treatment that will work to cure the problem indefinitely. Instead, alcoholics will require treatment for their lifetime. Counseling, support groups, and anonymous meetings are all available to help provide the support one needs to stop drinking.