Alcoholism1 Paper

This essay has a total of 1356 words and 7 pages.



Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental
factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive
and fatal. Alcoholism is a complex disease with physical, social and psychological
consequences, but it can be treated through detoxification and anti-anxiety drugs. What
will be explained in this essay is basically the history of alcohol, signs of one possibly
being an alcoholic, possibilities to why one becomes an alcoholic, and treatments for it.

In the past, alcoholism was often viewed as a moral weakness or character flaw; it was
thought that the person could stop drinking if he or she really wanted to. It wasn't until
1970, with the establishment of NIAAA and a national public education effort, that people
began to understand and accept that alcoholism is a life-threatening, chronic disease
involving psychological and physical dependence on alcohol.

Based on the American Psychiatric Association's 4th edition of Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, NIAAA recognizes four signs of alcoholism: Loss of control
over drinking. Alcoholics may intend to have two or three drinks, but before they know it,
they are on their 10th. Continued use of alcohol despite social, medical, family, and work
problems. Increased alcohol tolerance over time, (needing more alcohol to become

Withdrawal symptoms when alcoholics stop drinking after a period of heavy drinking. The
symptoms include anxiety, agitation, increased blood pressure, and, in extreme cases,
seizures. These symptoms may persist for several days.

People do not need to have all four signs to be diagnosed as alcoholic. Those who have
significant problems controlling their drinking and functioning in social situations
because of alcohol may be considered alcoholics without the physical signs, tolerance and

The APA manual distinguishes between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. The latter is a less
severe problem; unlike alcoholics, alcohol abusers do not develop physical withdrawal or
compulsive alcohol use. However, like alcoholics, their drinking has negative health,
economic and social effects. Both alcoholics and alcohol abusers need treatment, although
the goals differ. In most cases of alcohol abuse, the goal is to limit drinking, while for
alcoholism, it is to stop drinking altogether.

Why some people become alcoholics remains a mystery, although most scientists now agree
that a combination of genetic and environmental factors increases a person's

Based on the results of Swedish adoption studies, some researchers divide alcoholism into
two types. Type I, the most common, occurs in both men and women and is associated with
adult-onset alcohol dependence. This form, also known as "milieu-limited" alcoholism,
appears to be the result of "genetic predisposition and environmental provocation,"
according to NIAAA's 1991 publication Alcohol Research: Promise for the Decade--that is,
the development of alcoholism in these cases is an interaction between inherited
predisposition and the person's life situations.

Type II, or male-limited, alcoholism, on the other hand, is due mainly to genetics. It
occurs only in men, usually with early onset in the teen years, and is more difficult to
treat. Type II alcoholics tend to exhibit antisocial, aggressive behavior.

A study in a 1992 Journal of Studies on Alcohol (Volume 53, Number 2) suggests there may
be a third type similar to Type II but without the antisocial behavior. People often
realize a friend or family member has alcoholism through the consequences of drinking,
such as arrests for drunk driving or problems at work, including chronic absenteeism.
Alcoholics' spouses may demand they leave the house. Later in the disease, they may be
hospitalized for liver disease or pancreatitis.

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