Alcoholism: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects

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Alcoholism: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects

Composition I April 1, 1997

Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people in the United States today. It not only affects the alcoholic, but also their family, friends, co- workers, and eventually total strangers. The symptoms are many, as are the causes and the effects.

Alcoholism is defined as a pattern of drinking in which harmful consequences result for the drinker, yet, they continue to drink. There are two types of drinkers. The first type, the casual or social drinker, drinks because they want to. They drink with a friend or with a group for pleasure and only on occasion. The other type, the compulsive drinker, drinks because they have to, despite the adverse effects that drinking has on their lives.

The symptoms of alcoholism vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms seen are changes in emotional state or stability, behavior, and personality. "Alcoholics may become angry and argumentive, or quiet and withdrawn or depressed. They may also feel more anxious, sad, tense, and confused. They then seek relief by drinking more" (Gitlow 175).

"Because time and amount of drinking are uncontrollable, the alcoholics is likely to engage in such behaviors as [1] breaking family commitments, both major and minor; [2] spending more money than planned; [3] drinking while intoxicated and getting arrested; [4] making inappropriate remarks to friends, family, and co-workers; [5] arguing, fighting and other anti-social actions. The alcoholic would probably neither do such things, nor approve of them in others unless he was drinking" (Johnson 203).

The cause of alcoholism is a combination of biological, psychological, and cultural factors that may contribute to the development of alcoholism in an individual. Alcoholism seems to run in families. "Although there is no conclusive indication of how the alcoholism of families members is associated, studies show that 50 to 80 percent of all...
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