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Alcoholism - A big problem in our society

What is alcoholism? The American Medical Association (AMA) defines alcoholism as an illness or disease. Cancer Web's medical dictionary defines alcoholism as a disorder characterized by a pathological pattern of alcohol use that causes a serious impairment in social or occupational functioning. A disease is medically defined as an interrupting or disturbing the performance of vital functions, and causing or threatening pain or weakness.

This says the clever book. But there are many more things, that we should knew before we start talking about alcoholism.

There they are:

  • Alcoholism is chronic. It can last a lifetime without help and treatment.
  • Alcoholism is progressive. It will not get better with time and it will not go away. It gets progressively worse and an alcoholic can relapse with only a single drink even after an extended period of sobriety.
  • Alcoholism is incurable. A patient recovered from alcoholism can never go back to "normal" drinking. A complete abstinence from alcoholic consumption.
  • Alcoholism results in loss of control. Once a drink is taken after sobriety, the alcoholic cannot control nor predict whether the drinking will be "normal" or "abnormal". The alcohol controls the alcoholic - not vice versa.
In the past alcoholism carried a tremendous public and social stigma. This was a barrier to many people who needed to seek help but was fearful of employment, family or social retribution. This stigma has lessened greatly due to the increased awareness diseases need professional treatment to be overcome. The more aware the public is, the more apparent that alcoholism affects all walks of life at all ages.

Today, there is a variety of inpatient and outpatients program that have each met with their own successes. Abstinence from all mood-altering substances is required in nearly all programs to achieve true success in fighting the urge to drink. Holistic, religious and stress-management skills also are employed in support network and maintaining a healthy lifestyle of balanced diet, exercise and positive work patterns.

Occasionally, drug therapy is introduced to treat depression that cans undermine efforts to maintain sobriety. These coincidental health concerns require medical supervision and must also be acknowledged and treated.

Nutrition therapy and biochemistry is being used more and more in the repair of damage done to the body from alcoholism.

Naloxone, an opiate antagonist drug, has received FDA approval as a treatment for alcohol abuse and dependency. It has been shown to be successful in the reduction of alcohol cravings.

How I can recognize alcoholic? In the early stages, there are usually few outward signs of a problem. The victim functions normally most of the time but a few personality changes may be present: the inability to handle stress and increased conflict with family members. While this is not necessarily indicative of an alcohol problem, additional signs will be present to others before they are accepted by the victim:
  • An increase in the amount of alcohol required to achieve the same effect or "buzz".
  • Lapses in memory or "blackouts"
  • A feeling that a drinking pattern is getting out of control
  • And in the final stages, the victim is unable to stop drinking for any lengthy period of time but derives little or no pleasure from the alcohol consumption.

The most prevalent and pervasive symptom exhibited by the victim is that of denial: no problem exists. Chronic drinking and other related problems will be attributed to other causes. Family members also may be in denial and protect the victim (calling in sick to work to cover for a hangover) or refuse to acknowledge destructive behavior

What is an intervention? Clinically speaking an intervention is a deliberate process by which change is introduced into one's thoughts, feelings and behavior.

In real life, a formal intervention involves people (family, members, friends, loved ones) preparing themselves to have a respectful dialogue with someone involved in a destructive behavior (alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorder, etc.). An interventionist guides the dialogue and keeps it within boundaries that are logical and constructive, even in the face of denial, anger, fear and sorrow.

The ultimate goal of the intervention is for the person involved in the destructive behavior to listen and accept that they need help and most importantly accept the help being offered. This is the first step in relieving the pain and suffering that the everyone involved is going through.

The important thing to note is that alcoholism is not a lifestyle choice. It is a disease, an actual impairment of the body's health that prevents the person from functioning normally and causes not only pain to the alcoholic but also family and friends.


  • Alcohol contributes to 100 000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the US after tobacco and diet/activity patterns.
  • More than seven percent of the population ages 18 years and older- nearly 13.8 million Americans- have problems with drinking, including 8.1 million people who are alcoholic.
  • Almost three times as many men (9.8 million) as women (3.9 million) are problem drinkers, and prevalence is highest for both sexes in the 18 to 29 age group.
  • About 43% Of US adults- 76 million people- have been exposed to alcoholism in the family- they grew up with or married who was an alcoholic or problem drinker.
  • 62% of high school seniors report that they have been drunk; 31% say they have had five or more drinks in a row during the last two weeks.
  • People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
  • 3.1 million Americans- approximately 1.4% of the population 12 and older- received treatment for alcoholism and alcohol-related problem in 1997; treatment peaked among people 26-34.
  • Studies of suicide victims in the general population show that about 20% are alcoholic.
Alcoholism is a big problem in our world and many people are addicted on it, as you can read before.

Let's discus some questions about this topic. For our society it can be really dangerous, because drunken people loose control about them and can be uncountable.

For example I know one man, who is professional driver and who loves drink a lot. In now days he can control if he drinks before work or in free time, but when he drinks, he can't control anything. He could has a bad decision, slow way of make decisions and he can be very dangerous for other people and for him selves. He has bed behavior in his drunker time. He is very vulgar and impolite.

Alcoholism is caused all groups of people. Poor people usually drink because of their miserable life. Rich people drink, because they have enough money and they don't know what they should do with free time.

And teenagers, I think, usually drink for the entertainment and for wish being more independent and feel like an adult.

And other things can call out alcoholism. When person isn't healthy or he lost his job, or has some family problems, it is cruel period of time and weak people can decided this problem in alcoholicity way. But it always depends on people. If you are enough strong, you don't need anything special for being happy. And if you are quite enough self- confident you can survive other problems without drinking or taking drugs.

The worst thing about drinking is, that many people around alcoholic suffer. In alcoholic family children suffer most. And they have bed example for life. They can think, that drinking is OK and normal. Or if poor woman has alcoholic husband and he can be cruel to his wife, when he is drunk, because he can't control his behavior (of sure it can be vice versa).

One of the couple wants to help his alcoholic partner, but it is always hard. Alco holistic don't want to help, they don't know why they should, because they think there isn't any problem. But there aren't only social problem. There can be healthy problem as well. One's drinking can seriously hurt your liver and other organs in your body, including brains and heart.

When one of the alcoholic decided to go to the hospital, it's really a "holiday" and it's usually because of his friends or relatives. But this decision doesn't solve anything. It only depends on every person, how he will keep his will and how much pain he can bear. Usually one stay in clinic isn't enough and many people return there. They are usually too addicted on alcohol that they can't avoid drinking after only one stay in a hospital.

They need big help from their relatives and friends and it can be also negatives help. Like: "We don't want to speak with anybody who is drunk, you haven't to go to our party, because you drink so much and we want to enjoy, not to see drunker." And other and other way. Family should decide their behavior to the alcoholic with specialists and they will help them with this problem.

Every addicted are dangerous for all our society, not only for themselves. So we should help to this people and try to protect and cure them. Or put they to the prison, away from the society to avoid disaster. But if there is the smallest chance to cure this person, we should try. (Prison is the fastest chance, I think.)

Every one of us never doesn't know, what can happen with him and when he will need help from other people. So everyone should do something for better world and it isn't important how big is this help. All addiction cause not only addicted, but it causes everybody. By the addicted can be extend many dangerous disease, like AIDS, and other sexual illness.

Our duty to the world is prevent this situation. On school should be done lecture about every of this problem, people should know about every bad point and there must be a lot of "helping house" in every country. And some free telephone number, where you can call if you have a problem. One of the most useful therapies is the group therapy, I think. There you can speak about your experiences with drinking and everybody understands you, because they have had the same, or nearly the same problems. In this group should be one psychologist for professional help, but in most cases is more useful, that you can speak with your "co-workers". Everything is better if you know, that someone else has the same life experiences.

But the main results of your cure, you will get only if you want. With strong wish and strong will. Results depend only on individual characters. And if you go out from hospital, you should avoid every alcohol. Just every. No champagne, no beer, nothing at all. Very difficult and hard life experiences. But if survive, you'll value your life more and it will be better than ever. Every addicted person has someone or something for what is he important or for what he must be live and all right.

© February 2001 English on the Internet www.aj.cz