What is alcoholism?
Let’s first look at, what is alcohol? Alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient in beer, wine, and strong drink. Alcohol, for the most part, is a legally purchased product in the USA for adults over the age of twenty-one, and in some cases over eighteen. To many inhabitance of the planet earth, alcohol is the social drink of choice in one form or the other. Alcoholism is the misuse of or dependency on, physical or mental, alcohol. Too often to many it is a problem that heightens the already seemingly unbearable problems that accompany life.
There are many reason for consuming alcohol to the point that it becomes a problem. The problem may be noticed more by family, friends, and coworkers, who may not report what they are noticing to the “drinker” for a number of reason; until the problem is out of control. The issues related to alcoholism can too easily become a social issue; while many people are able to hide the problem for years. Alcoholism will impact more than just the person with the illness and related problems.
According to MedlinePlus.gov about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder. According to the same source alcoholism or alcohol dependency causes – Craving (a strong need to drink) – Loss of control (not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started) – Physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms) – Tolerance (the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect). While these may seem over simplified to someone dealing with the illness, those direct results from alcohol use may be helpful to detect alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism is a illness that left unchecked, and even when it is in check, does and will impact family and friends and society at large. The list of issues may seem to be endless. At one period the USA tried to ban alcohol consumption. The results were, the cure was seen as worse than the illness. The reality is that drinking continued, but as an illegal activity; adding to societies problems. Quite clearly forced abstention does not work. Abstention has to be voluntary. But waiting until the problems outweighs the euphoria and perceived benefits, also does not seem to be the answer. Although it is better than no answer, and has resulted in positive recoveries.
There are many root causes for alcohol related issues. As stated above all the issues are not with the person using alcohol. There may not be just one solution, but social intervention, without the accompanying shame and guilt, is a good start. Even social intervention is not just one solution. Since the issues overlap into the family unit, the solutions needed do not all address the one abusing alcohol. For families to participate in the social intervention of the one with the illness, they may need their own intervention to deal with the overlapping issues. The causes and the solutions may seem overwhelming, but the end results are overwhelmingly a blessing.