Alcoholism 11

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Alcoholism is one of the biggest medical problems in the Western world. Alcohol has been around since biblical times. The problem continues to grow every year and has a negative impact on society. Nearly every town and city has restaurants that serve alcohol, and has stores where it can be purchased. For these reasons, the nature of alcoholism needs to be exposed. The problems that arise from this disease need to be shown. The purpose of this paper is to talk about the problem, the cause and effects, and the treatment process.

Alcoholism is the habitual or compulsive consumption of alcoholic liquor to excess according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. An alcoholic has no control over drinking and continues to use alcohol even though adverse consequences occur (Hurley 71). Alcohol affects the alcoholic’s family and work, they ignore responsibilities and assignments.

In nineteen fifty six alcoholism was recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association. (Fishman 28) When the National Council for Education on Alcoholism (now known as the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency) was formed, their first and most prominent principle was, “Alcoholism is a disease” (Nicolaus 136). The disease has serious consequences on the drinker and society as well.

Even though there is much concern about drugs, next to tobacco, alcohol is the most widely used drug in the United States (Hurley 71). Alcohol impaired drivers caused thirty two percent of traffic related fatalities in two thousand eight (“Alcohol Impaired Driving”). In 1996 nearly thirty six percent of incarcerated criminals were under the influence of alcohol when committing their crime (“Alcohol and Crime”). Indeed, alcoholism has become a public concern, since it had begun to influence society as well.

There are two types of alcoholism, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency. An example of alcohol abuse is random binge drinking. A person is alcohol dependent when that person can’t stop drinking without withdrawal symptoms. “There is no known cause of alcoholism.” (Van Voorhees) Alcoholism is described as a drug addiction. There are several factors that play in its development. They are divided into two main groups, psychological and social. Psychological factors include anxiety relief, conflict in relationships, depression and low self-esteem. Some examples of social factors are the ease of getting alcohol, peer pressure, social acceptance of alcohol use, and a stressful lifestyle. (Van Voorhees)

There are other factors that lead to excessive drinking. “Research suggests that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, but which genes or how they work is not known.” (Van Voorhees) Studies have shown that family history is a factor as well. People whose parents abused alcohol have a higher risk of alcoholism.

It is a given that alcoholism leads to physical and mental problems. But how does excessive consumption of alcohol affect the daily life of alcoholics? What are the effects of alcoholism in everyday life? The organ most sensitive to alcohol is the brain. The cerebrum is affected first. It is in control of sensation, perception, speech, and judgment. The cerebellum is the second part of the brain affected. The cerebellum is responsible for coordination and balance. A person under the influence of alcohol will have slurred speech, loss of balance and uncoordinated movements. The excessive alcohol user is usually unable to judge accurately what he or she can or cannot do. Drinking alcohol increases confidence and diminishes abilities. This misplaced confidence often leads people to judge themselves competent to perform tasks that are beyond their abilities. (Fishman 37-41)

An alcoholic’s job and family are also affected by alcoholism. In couples it affects communication, which in turn, increases conflict levels. It has also been proven that domestic violence increases in alcoholic...
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