Information About Alcoholism

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When discussing information about alcoholism, one of the main points that needs to be emphasized is the following: alcoholism is a progressive degenerative disease that includes the following four symptoms: tolerance, physical dependence, loss of control, and craving.

Another bit of significant alcoholism information is that there are health, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral aspects of alcoholism that need to be examined in order to better understand this damaging and debilitating disease.

Common Drinking Behavior, Moderation, and Alcoholism

For most people who drink, alcohol is a pleasurable experience, especially when they are engaged in social or recreational activities. In addition, in most instances, drinking responsibly and in moderation is not harmful for most adults.

A relatively large number of people, conversely, cannot have any alcoholic beverages because of the problems or consequences they experience when drinking. In fact, roughly 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.

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Moreover, and in accord with recent substance abuse research, it has been revealed that around 53 percent of adults in the United States have stated that one or more of their close relatives or family members has a drinking problem.

Let us state the obvious: "problem drinking" is a serious and extensive problem in our society that needs to be addressed and dealt with.

The Damaging Effects of Alcoholism

The consequences of alcoholism are not only serious, but in many cases, deadly. For instance, excessive and abusive drinking can increase the risk for certain cancers, such as cancer of the larynx, liver, throat, rectum, kidneys, and the esophagus.

Furthermore, long-term, excessive drinking can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver, problems with the immune system, brain damage, and harm to the fetus while the mother is pregnant.

Additionally, excessive and irresponsible drinking increases the risk of work-related and recreational injuries as well as of death from people who drive while under the influence of alcohol.

Not only this, but homicides and suicides are more likely to be committed by people who have been drinking.

In simple economic terms, alcohol-related issues and problems in the United States cost society about $200 billion per year.

In human terms, however, the cost of the following alcohol-related consequences cannot be calculated: wife battering, broken homes, failed health, destroyed lives, child abuse, injuries, and fatalities.

Alcoholism Statistics

Unfortunately, the full impact of the damaging outcomes of alcoholism are not usually comprehended until relevant alcoholism-related statistics are explicitly articulated.

With this thought in mind and in an attempt to add some additional info on alcoholism, the following alcoholism statistics and facts, obtained from various online research studies and surveys, will be listed:

  • It is estimated that more than 3 million teenagers in the U.S. between the ages of 14 to 17 are problem drinkers.

  • Alcoholism is associated with 25% of all U.S. hospital admissions.

  • More than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.

  • 20% of suicide victims in the United States are alcoholics.

  • Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $220 billion in 2005. This dollar amount was more than the cost associated with cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).

  • In the United States, almost three times as many men (9.8 million) as women (3.9 million) are problem drinkers.

  • Children of alcoholics demonstrate a three- to four-time increased risk of developing alcoholism.

  • Of the 940,000 people who said they needed alcohol or drug abuse treatment in a specialty facility, only 314,000 made an effort to get treatment, while 625,000 made no effort.

  • American youth who drinking before the of age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than young people who do not drink before the age of 21.

  • Raising the minimum legal drinking age in all States to 21 saved an estimated 20,000 lives between 1975 and 2000.

  • 95% of alcoholics die from their disease and die approximately 26 years earlier than their normal life expectancy.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that about 76 million people throughout the world suffer from alcohol-related disorders.

  • Underage drinking costs Americans nearly $53 billion annually. If this cost were shared equally by each congressional district, the amount would total more than $120 million per district.

What's the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

A number of people think that alcoholism and alcohol abuse are the same. This is incorrect. Alcohol abuse, unlike alcoholism, does not include physical dependence, an extremely strong desire for alcohol, or tolerance (needing more alcohol to experience the same pleasurable effects).

Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations in a twelve-month time frame:

  • Drinking in situations that can result in physical injury. Examples include driving a vehicle or operating machinery.

  • Failure to attend to important responsibilities at school, home, work, or in the community.

  • Continued drinking despite ongoing alcohol-related relationship problems.

  • Experiencing recurring alcohol-related legal problems. Examples include getting arrested for damaging someone's property, for physically hurting someone while drunk, and driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Definition of Alcoholism

Also known as alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction, alcoholism is a progressive debilitating disease that includes the following symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong and continuing need or compulsion to drink.

  • Tolerance: The need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol in order to experience the intense pleasure or euphoria one is accustomed to feeling.

  • Loss of control: The inability to limit one's drinking over time or on any given occasion.

  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms when an addicted individual quits drinking after a period of excessive drinking. Such symptoms include: "the shakes," nausea, anxiety, and sweating.

Alcoholism Treatment

The Treatment of Alcoholism. It is important to stress the point that if you notice your family members or friends exhibiting any of the above alcohol abuse or alcoholism behaviors, think about talking to them about going for a professional alcohol assessment. Your family members or friends who are "problem drinkers" may need alcoholism treatment or they may need alcohol rehabilitation at a rehab center or hospital if they are to get the help they need.

Frequently, people who drink in moderation or who are not alcohol dependent have a difficult time understanding why an alcoholic simply cannot use the power of positive thinking or willpower to stop drinking.

In most instances, however, alcohol dependency has little to do with being emotionally strong or with willpower because alcohol dependent individuals are caught in a powerful and uncontrollable need for alcohol that takes priority over their ability to stop drinking.

In fact, this need to drink for the alcohol addicted person may be as strong as his or her need for shelter, personal interaction, food, or water.

Conclusion: Information About Alcoholism

When alcoholism facts and information about alcoholism are discussed, one of the major points to keep in mind is that for most people who drink, alcohol is an enjoyable and pleasant experience, especially when they participate in social and recreational events and activities.

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In the vast majority of cases, moreover, drinking responsibly and in moderation is not harmful for most adults. A relatively large number of individuals, on the other hand, simply cannot drink any alcoholic beverages due to the negative outcomes they experience while drinking.

From a more positive perspective, however, it is important to point out, additionally, that the more an individual reads and internalizes relevant and accurate information about alcoholism, the more the negative consequences of this disease become apparent and the more a person becomes able to prevent this disease before it ever starts.

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