A person who is dependent on the consumption of alcohol is called an Alcoholic, and the state of alcohol dependence is called Alcoholism. It has been a long time since alcoholism was classified as a disease. The pattern of drinking alcohol in this is case is such that it involves obsession and compulsion for the drug, affecting the bio, psycho, social, and spiritual side of the drinker.
Researches tell us that 10% population turns out to be alcoholics, while the rest of the population comprises of social drinkers. Alcoholics are in heavy denial and are least aware about the serious physical and psychological complications to follow. Social relationships are also badly disrupted. One fails to perform normal tasks, like caring for personal hygiene, stops taking interest in activities one used to enjoy, regulating one’s routine, running daily errands etc.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 140 million alcoholics worldwide. Most of them don’t get proper treatment. Alcohol is responsible for 1 out of 25 deaths occurring worldwide. National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that in U.S alone, there are about 10% male alcoholics and 5% female alcoholics. Similarly, National Health Service (NHS) estimates that 1 out of 13 people, is an alcoholic in U.K.
Alcohol can be abused by any one; it is not solely associated with alcoholism or alcohol dependence. Even social drinking should not be underestimated, because it can eventually lead to the increased consumption, which can cause problems.
To develop a better understanding of Alcoholism, we should look at its nature that has 4 aspects:
Alcoholism is a chronic illness, just like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer etc. A person can learn to manage and live with it, but not able to cure it.
As time goes by, alcoholism keeps getting worse, affecting a person’s bio, psycho, social, and spiritual health.
Alcoholism does not require and other condition to originate. It is independent and it has its own reasons to develop.
- Potentially fatal
It is self-explanatory that if a person doesn’t resort to treatment at earliest possible, alcoholism may prove to be fatal.
One should look out for clear indications of alcoholism that include:
- Increased Tolerance:
Due to a person’s exposure to alcohol, his brain and liver adapt to alcohol itself, which results in a reduced response of the body. In that case, the person needs more of the drug to produce the same effect.
- Withdrawal Symptoms:
These are experienced by the alcoholic as he decreases or stops consuming alcohol. Common symptoms include insomnia, tremors, nausea, and panic attacks.
As the person advances with his alcohol consumption, the aforementioned indications result in two consequential factors that are a clear sign of alcoholism. These are:
- Maintenance Pattern:
Here a person’s primary reason for drinking is to keep withdrawal symptoms under control and keep functioning normally. Hence, a person sees alcohol as a medication.
- Loss of Control:
Here a person loses control over 3 areas; the amount consumed, time and place of alcohol use, and the duration of drinking episode.
These two factors clearly differentiate between an alcoholic and a social drinker. Along with many complications, alcohol badly effects and inflicts damages on liver in innumerable ways. Instead of putting one’s life at risk, one should resort to alcohol treatment at earliest possible for better outcomes.