Essay, Research Paper: Alcoholism

Alcohol and Drugs

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Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The
disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or
periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol,
use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most
notably denial (NCADD)." It`s effects on an individual are an
indescribable, harsh, reality of what one drug can do to an individual. Some
people wonder when drinking becomes a problem. For most adults, moderate alcohol
use, no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women is relatively
harmless. A "drink" consists of 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of
wine or 12 ounces of beer (Etiology). Moderate use, however, lies at one end of
a continuum that moves through alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence. Alcohol
abuse is a drinking pattern that results in consequences that are significant
and recurrent. Alcoholics may fail to fulfill major school, work, or family
obligations. They may have drinking-related legal problems, such as DUI`s and
they may have relationship problems related to their drinking. People with
alcoholism have become compulsive in their alcohol use. Although they can
control their drinking at times, they are often unable to stop once they start.
As their tolerance increases, they may need more and more alcohol to achieve the
same "high". Or they may become physically dependent on alcohol,
suffering withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, restlessness,
irritability, tremors and even hallucinations and convulsions when they stop
after a period of heavy drinking. It doesn't matter what kind of alcohol someone
drinks or even how much: alcohol dependent people simply lack control over their
drinking. Alcohol-related disorders are caused by many things. Problem drinking
has multiple causes, with genetic, physiological, psychological and social
factors all playing a role (Sher & Trull). For some alcoholics,
psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem and a need for
approval prompt inappropriate drinking. Others drink as a way of coping with
emotional pain. Still others use alcohol to "medicate themselves. Heavy
drinking can cause physiological changes that make more drinking the only way to
avoid discomfort. Genetic factors cause some people to be especially vulnerable
to alcohol. However, a family history of alcoholism doesn't mean that children
of alcoholics will automatically grow up to become alcoholics themselves.
Environmental factors such as peer pressure and the easy availability of alcohol
can also play roles. Although alcohol-related disorders can strike anyone,
poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds. Alcoholics, as a
group, tend to demand a lot of themselves as individiuals. They put an enormous
amont of emphasis on trying to please others and themselves. The frustration
that can become of this is all but pleasing. They may become pinfully depressed
or overly agressive causing family life to deteriorate rapidly (Family). If the
person is married, the significant other is forced to make a decision as to
whether they are going to stay with the alcoholic or not. Many families try to
deny the fact that the person is an alcoholic causing the situation to
deteriorate even further. One may wonder how alcoholisim affects the family. By
allowing an alcoholic`s behavior to be controlled by a substance, the abuser,
family members, friends and colleagues unknowingly become part of the problem.
Substance abusers cannot stop the habit of drinking without the help of others.
Abusing alcohol can have several effects on the family. These things can be
anything like a lack of trust in other people, difficulty expressing feelings,
working hard to keep things going at home and school, insecurity, loneliness,
anger, frustration, guilt, and fear (Family). However, one should not accept
blame for someone else`s behavior, have an attitude that makes the alcohoic
think that they are less than oneself, use the if you loved me you would stop
appeal, make idle threats, argue with the alcoholic when they are under the
influence, and have unrealistic expectations. What one really should do is learn
the facts about alcoholisim, develop an attitude to match the facts, talk to
someone such as a professional counselor about alcoholisim, make use of sources
such as Al-Anon, maintain a healthy lifestyle for oneself, and take a stand
about an alcohol free environment. The symptoms of alcoholisim can start out
minor and hard to detect at first, however they will rapidly show themselves
over the course of time. Many of the symptoms may include loss of continuous
impared control over drinking, progression with the drug, use of alcohol despite
consequences, distortions in thinking, personality change, and most notably
denial (ESBRA). Many alcoholics say that they have a good reason for their
drinking. These reasons vary considerably from loneliness to attraction, and
escaping from pain to control issues. These patterns are common to addiction. No
individual would like to admit that they are any different than anyone else.
Therefore, it is understandable that they would want to make excuses for their
drinking. They would like to one day, control their drinking, for that is the
wish of every alcoholic (Big Book). However, many alcoholics die in the process
of doing this. Alcohol-related disorders can affect people in many many ways.
Small amounts of alcohol may have some beneficial physical effects, but heavy
drinking can cause serious health problems and even death. Short-term effects
include distorted perceptions, memory loss, hangovers and black-outs. However,
most problems aren't apparent until they become serious. Long term, heavy
drinking can cause impotence, stomach ailments, cardiovascular problems, cancer,
CNS (central nervous system) damage, serious memory loss and liver cirrhosis (NCADD).
Cirrhosis is one of the most common disorders associated with alcoholism. It is
the most severe form of liver disease. The liver is especially vulnerable to the
toxic effects of alcohol because it is the primary component for filtering out
substances in the blood. Alcohol also increases the chances of dying from
automobile accidents, homicide and suicide. Heavy drinking also has a impact on
one`s mental health. Alcoholism can worsen existing conditions, such as
depression, or induce new problems, such as serious memory loss, depression, or
anxiety. Alcoholics don`t just hurt themselves. According to National Council on
Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), more than half of Americans have at least
one close relative with a drinking problem (NCADD). The results can be
devastating. Spouses are more likely to face domestic violence. Children are
more likely to develop psychological problems, suffer physical and sexual abuse
and neglect. Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging
their fetuses. A person that lives in a house with an alcoholic has an
approximately twenty-five percent of marriying another alcoholic (Family). The
reasons for this are still being researched. However, some researchers believe
that it occurs becuase the person is used to being with an alcoholic. The
individual might be used to living with someone that is not normal in society`s
eyes, but in their eyes is something that is normal to them (Sher, Walitzer,
Wood). It has also been found that the children of alcoholics do drink most of
the time. Some do not drink to the extent of the parent because they do not want
to turn out like their parent. However, in studies and surveys, it has been
found that the children of alcoholics do drink socially. Someone should seek
help when signs of a possible problem occur. These include having friends or
relatives express concern, being annoyed when people criticize your drinking,
feeling guilty about your drinking and thinking that you should cut down but
finding yourself unable to do so (NCADD). Needing a morning drink to steady your
nerves or relieve a hangover is another warning sign. Alcoholics usually can't
stop drinking through willpower alone. Most need outside help. They may need
medically supervised detoxification to avoid potentially life-threatening
withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, for instance. Depending on the problem's
severity, treatment can take place during office visits, hospital stays or
residential treatment programs. Once people are stabilized, they need help
resolving psychological issues that may be associated with problem drinking. A
psychologist can help an alcoholic. They play a huge role in the successful
treatment of alcohol-related disorders. One should be sure to choose a
psychologist who is experienced in working with alcohol-related disorders. To
improve the chances of recovery, one should seek help early. Using individual or
group psychotherapy, psychologists can help people address psychological issues
involved in their drinking. They can help people boost their motivation,
identify situations that trigger drinking and learn new coping methods. They can
also provide information to programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The treatment
process doesn't end once drinking does, however. To help prevent relapses,
psychologists usually keep working with people as they begin new lives. Many
people seek additional support through continued involvement in A.A. Because
families influence both drinking and recovery, marital and family therapy are
also key. Psychologists can help families repair relationships and work through
the complex transitions that occur as recovery begins. They can help families
understand alcoholism and learn how to support family members in recovery. They
can also refer family members to self-help groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen.
Many people also wonder if treatment really works. Evidence strongly suggests
that many people, especially those with jobs, families and other forms of social
stability, recover after their first attempt (History). Not everyone is so
fortunate. Some cycle between relapse and recovery several times before
achieving long-term sobriety. What's important is for the person to stop
drinking again and get additional support (Relapse). While alcoholism is
treatable, so far no cure has been found. That means people remain susceptible
to relapses even after they've been sober for a long time. Reducing alcohol
consumption doesn't work. Most experts agree that the goal should be complete
avoidance of alcohol. Alcohol-related disorders can severely impair people's
functioning and health. But the prospects for long-term recovery are good for
people who seek help from appropriate sources. Qualified psychologists with
experience in this area can help those who suffer from alcohol-related disorders
stop drinking and start regaining control of their lives.
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