What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the most serious form of alcohol abuse. Alcohol dependence is a disease categorized as habitual drinking of alcohol. Also, it serves as the most accessible addictive substance. Alcoholism includes the inability to control ones drinking habits. Some people called functioning alcoholics, can still run their daily lives quite well. Some people would call them high performing alcoholics. But if you are addicted you are still enslaved to your addiction.

In the United States, 7.2% or 17 million adults aged 18 above suffers from AUD. Out of t 17 million, 5.7 million are women and 11.2 are men. These people drink excessively too often which leads to detrimental effects on their health. Alcohol dependence causes cravings for the necessity to drink.

A person suffering from alcoholism believes that they cannot function normally without alcohol. This perception often results to problems which affect their personal lives, professional careers, and health. Long term alcoholic abuse may result in severe side effects which are harmful to the physical and mental health. Alcohol-related deaths each up to 88,000 each year, and remains the fourth leading cause of death in the country.

Reasons Why People Turn to Alcohol

Several factors play an important key why people drink alcohol and increase the risk for the addiction. A drink or two during the day can gradually develop an addiction. People usually turn to alcohol to cope up with mental or physical distress. Similarly, most people result to drinking alcohol for these reasons:


Since alcohol acts as a sedative and depressant, drinking it produces a feeling of relaxation. Some turn to alcohol because of this sensation to deal with stress.  However, drinking also builds up a tolerance for the liquid which requires larger servings to achieve the same effect.

Escape from reality

People who tend to drink excessive alcohol hides personal problems they are trying escape. For them, drinking alcohol can provide them relief from their problems. However, the effects will result in more issues rather than a solution to these issues. Alcohol consumption during the week can turn into a serious dependence on the substance.

Loss of a loved one

Losing a loved one or a close friend was never easy. For a drinker, alcohol can ease the sorrow. Yet, a drink too many can spiral out of control and becomes a drinking problem.


Recent research shows that genetics also plays a key factor for alcohol dependence. A certain gene, D2 dopamine receptor which a person can inherit increases their chance to develop alcoholism.

Effects of Alcoholism

Alcohol dependence increases the risk of several cancers. Alcohol can damage the liver, brain, and other internal organs. The disease is also linked with deaths resulting to vehicular accidents, homicide, and suicide.

Short-term effect of alcohol addiction can cause:

  • slow reaction time
  • slurred speech
  • reduce brain activity
  • poor response
  • decreased self-consciousness
  • blurred vision
  • distorted hearing
  • breathing problems
  • vomiting

Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the health permanently. Several side effects can appear later in life. Here are the lists of what alcoholism can do to the body:

    • digestive problems
    • liver disease
    • heart problems
    • neurological complications
    • increase risk of cancer
    • weakened immune system
    • sexual function
    • vision impairment


Don’t lose hope. Alcoholism is treatable and different rehab facilities specialize in the addiction offer programs and therapies for alcoholics.  Treatment for alcoholism includes:

Detox and withdrawal

Treatment for alcoholism can begin with detoxification, which takes from two to seven days. This program usually takes place as an inpatient treatment in a center or at a hospital. Doctors may need the patient to take sedating medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

When an alcoholic stops their alcohol consumption, the neurotransmitters which the substance suppressed are no longer bound. It will then result to an even called brain hyperexcitability. It can cause severe shaking, irritability, and agitation. It is important to have medical assistance whenever these symptoms became apparent.


Another treatment involves an outpatient recovery program. It allows patients to continue with their daily normal routine while undergoing rehab therapy. The length of the rehab program usually takes 30 up to 90 days. It is best to consult a doctor to know what recovery program will work effectively.

Creating a treatment plan

This program involves alcohol treatment experts. It includes behavioral changes methods, goal setting, counseling and follow-up check-ups at a health facility.

Oral medications

Oral medication can help a drinker to curb the need to drink more but it does not address the problem directly. Some drugs can produce a chemical reaction for the body to flush out the alcohol.

Antabuse or disulfiram may help in the prevention of alcohol consumption. Once a drinker consumes alcohol it will produce a physical reaction that includes nausea, vomiting, flushing and headaches. Revia or naltrexone blocks the need to drink more alcohol, thus it decrease the desire to drink. Campral or acamprosate curbs the cravings on drinking alcohol and it does not cause any physical reaction.

Aftercare support

Support groups will help patients to recover from alcohol abuse to manage relapses and stop drinking. It includes psychological and medical care to cope up with the stress.