The term “alcoholism” describes a drinker who is mentally and physically dependent on alcohol, and who would most likely have withdrawal symptoms upon trying to quit. This dependence prevents most alcoholics from being able to control when they drink and how much they drink. For that reason, alcoholics usually drink to excess despite the consequences. Alcoholism, like any addiction, is a chronic disorder which involves continued use despite negative consequences and requires ongoing treatment and management. This research paper will cover many aspects of alcoholism including the causes and effects of drinking and different treatment approaches.
Alcohol Addiction: A Growing Epidemic
Alcohol’s importance in our social history is significant. Even more significant is the abuse of alcohol and how alcoholism has affected modern society. While historians don’t know exactly when alcohol was first created, they do know that it’s been around throughout almost all of human history. However, before the word “alcoholism” was ever spoken, alcohol was used for many purposes such as medicine, religious rituals and traditions, and even settling or giving courage in battles. Alcohol is the first drug used by ancient man, and its effects, both enriching and damaging, have been well documented throughout the world for centuries.
Beer jugs dating back to about 10,000 B.C. have been discovered and Egyptian hieroglyphs as old as 3100 B.C. show that wine was enjoyed far back into the first and second dynasties. In Egyptian burials, alcohol was used to help the dead journey into the afterlife. There is also evidence that the Babylonians, around 1600 B.C., knew how to brew twenty different types of beer. (Gifford, 2010).
It was also around this time that alcohol was tied to abuse. The Babylonians made their laws to include punishments against drunkenness. The Greeks and Romans loved wine so much that they worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine, and they would become extremely intoxicated. Their writings are full of warnings against drinking too much. The Old Testament of the Bible refers to alcohol numerous times as well and some religions wanted to keep alcohol sacred, so they made drinking too much of it into a sinful act. (Burns, 2004).
Alcohol’s popularity continued to spread throughout civilizations and we can trace the origins of alcohol and how our culture became familiar with it. All these new drinks being made helped to develop trade between European nations and the newly formed colonies in America. People continue to use alcohol in rituals and traditions, just like hundreds of years ago. But it has turned into a disease that punishes those who enjoy it too much. The development of alcohol from religious rituals to today, where there is a wide variety of alcoholic beverages shows how alcohol abuse has increased as well. Alcoholism has been a continuous problem for centuries due to its harmful effects.
Signs and Symptoms
In the field of psychology, the term alcohol dependence is synonymous with alcoholism. It is estimated that about 18 million people in this country who meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. (Benton, 2009). This chronic disease includes the following four symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance. The craving, a strong need or urge, that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. A person suffering from alcohol dependence most likely will not be able to stop drinking once drinking has begun and when stopping drinking withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety will occur. A tolerance will begin to establish and the individual will need to drink great amounts to feel the same “high.” (Deas, Roberts, and Grindlinger, 2005). There are many red flags to look for when determining if a person is dependent and addicted to alcohol. A person may drink alone or hide how much and how often...
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