Alcoholism: Supported by Empirical Evidence

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Alcoholism: Supported by Empirical Research
Ellie Smith
Vanderbilt University

Abstract
Globally, alcohol abuse disorders have become a problem for seventy-six million people (Orford, Natera, Copello, Atkinson, 2005). Addiction is a disease, not merely a social disorder. The disease not only affects the inflicted individuals, but can also be detrimental to family members and the greater community. Causes of addiction can be grouped into three categories: psychological traits, the family, and cultural beliefs. In order to remedy this problem, researchers have suggested psychosocial treatment, participation in Alcoholics Anonymous including abstinence from the drug completely, and having drug abuse education to counteract the social culture in which an addict is surrounded.

Keywords: alcoholism, addiction, effects, causes, treatment

Because alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable drug in the United States, its abuse is often unclear and goes un-noticed. Compared with other more intense drugs such as heroin and cocaine, alcohol is not as harshly frowned upon (Read, 2010). However, with seventy-six million people world-wide abusing the substance, alcoholism has become a prevalent disorder in society (Orfold et al., 2005). Alcoholism is an extensive problem, affecting addicts themselves, their families, and communities. Researchers have found the main causes for the disease, and with support of empirical data, have attempted to alleviate these causes with effective treatment strategies. Definition of Problem

In simple terms, alcoholism is defined as a “progressive loss of control,” including a loss of jurisdiction when it comes to forecasting amounts of alcohol that will be consumed in a given sitting (Read, 2010). Despite consequences alcohol has on communal and professional performance, an alcoholic is compelled to obtain the substance no matter the circumstances. A Two-Part Disease

Alcoholism includes two parts: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The four criteria for an alcohol abuse diagnosis include: repetitive drinking resulting in the inability to fulfill a commitment, drinking in dangerous environments, legal problems related to excessive drinking, or continuation of drinking despite relational complications. Alcohol dependence diagnoses depend on the fulfillment of three of seven requirements. These requirements include tolerance, withdrawal, drinking large amounts for extended periods of time, unsuccessful tries at cutting back on alcohol, spending excess time drinking or recovering from drinking, giving up favorable activities for drinking, and lastly, continual drinking, regardless of psychological or physical set back (Kerridge, 2007). Ewing Acronym

The Ewing acronym, CAGE, was formulated in 1984 and is still used today to assess if a patient is considered an alcoholic. The CAGE questionnaire stands for control, anger, guilt, and eye-opener. Control includes the realization of the need to cut back on alcohol consumption. A beginning sign of addiction is when promises to lay off the bottle are broken. Anger is defined as feeling perturbed when confronted about how much alcohol one is consuming. Patients are asked to question how they feel when a spouse, sibling, or other close friend criticizes their habits. If an individual feels guilty about drinking or recognizes a potential improvement in their life without the substance, it is time to realize the extent of the misuse of alcohol. Finally, having the need to wake up and have a drink or deal with a hangover by drinking more is a telling sign of an alcohol abuse issue. If any part of the CAGE questionnaire pertains to an individual, it is probable that he or she is transitioning from an experimental play with alcohol to a serious addiction (Ewing, 1984). Importance of Problem to Society

Colonial Americans did not view alcohol as a harmful substance, with the drug widely accepted in...
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