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Alcoholism: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects
I am sitting at home playing Nintendo with my roommate, jake, when I hear
a knock at the door. I wonder who in the world would be coming over this late
at night, because it\'s after midnight. As I open the door, the tired, bloodshot eyes of
my upstairs neighbor, Steve, stare at me. “Hi Sam,” Steve says. As he attempts to
enter my apartment, he stumbles on the slight rise where the weather strip runs
under the door. As he trips, his forehead smashes onto the edge of the coffee table
leaving a deep and bloody gash. I run in the bathroom and grab a towel while Jake
tries to help Steve. It doesn\'t take us long to realize that Steve is going to need
stitches and is in no condition to drive. He smells strongly of alcohol. We place a
make-shift bandage on his cut and throw him in Jake\'s Chevy truck.
On the way to the hospital, Steve starts complaining about being really cold.
He is talking incoherently and half crying. I ask Steve what he has been doing, and
he just hangs his head down mumbling about drinking. Steve isn\'t a social drinker.
He drinks alone. He explains that he has been drinking by himself all night long.
Steve is not a young college kid experimenting with alcohol. Steve is over
thirty years old. Steve drinks nearly every night. Steve is an alcoholic.
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
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 "Alcoholics may become angry and argumentative, quiet and withdrawn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 alcoholic is
likely to engage in such behaviors as  breaking family commitments, both major
and minor;  spending more money than planned;  drinking while intoxicated
and getting arrested;  making inappropriate remarks to friends, family, and
co-workers;  arguing, fighting and other anti-social actions. The alcoholic would
probably never 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 alcoholics have had a close alcoholic relative" (Caplan
266). Some researchers have suggested that in several cases, alcoholics have an
inherited, predisposition to alcohol addiction. Studies of animals and human twins
have lent support to this theory.
Alcoholism can also be related to emotional instabilities. For example,
alcoholism is often associated with a family history of manic-depressive illness.
Additionally, like many other drug abusers, alcoholics often drink hoping to "drown\'
anxious or depressed feelings. Some alcoholics drink to reduce strong inhibitions or
guilt about expressing negative feelings.
Social and cultural factors play roles in to establishing drinking patterns and
the development of alcoholism. In some cultures, there is conflict between
abstaining and accepting the use of alcohol as a way to change moods or to be
social, thus making it difficult for some people to develop stable attitudes about and
moderate patterns of drinking. Society tends to aid in the development of alcoholism
by making alcohol seem glamorous, showing that by drinking, you will become
more popular, more glamorous and more worthy of respects from others.
The physical effects of alcoholism are some what gruesome. Excessive in
take and prolonged use of alcohol can cause serious disturbances in body chemistry.
"Many alcoholics exhibit swollen and tender livers. The prolonged use of large
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Drinking culture, Alcohol abuse, Substance dependence, Drug culture, Alcoholism, Psychiatric diagnosis, Disease theory of alcoholism, Alcoholic beverage, Alcohol flush reaction, Long-term effects of alcohol consumption
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