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Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper


1. What is alcoholism? 2. How do people become alcoholics? 3. What are the

effects of alcoholism? 4. How do you diagnose alcoholism? 5. Is there a cure for

alcoholics? 6. What is the treatment? What is alcoholism? Alcoholism is a chronic

illness or disorder. Alcohol effects many parts of the body. Alcoholism is also a brain

disease.(NIDA 1) There are many stages to alcoholism. The two main stages are abuse

and dependence. Alcohol abuse is maladaptive pattern of alcohol use manifested by

recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of

alcohol.(NIAAA 7) Alcohol dependence involves a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and

physiological symptoms that result from repeated self-administration that usually results

in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior.(NIAAA 7) There are

three types of drinkers. The daily drinker, the weekend drinker, and the binge drinker.

Binge drinkers are the most dangerous, they are the most likely to die of alcohol


How do people become alcoholics? Nobody knows how people become

alcoholics. Many people believe that it is a genetic trait passed down. Studies have

shown that alcoholism may be genetic. If it is genetic it is in an indirect way. Others say

it is a learned maladaptive coping behavior. This means that drinking is a bad coping

behavior learned through parents or friends. More than forty percent of people who

began drinking at the age of fifteen or before were classified as dependent at some time

in their lives.(NIAAA 7) Compared to people who didn’t drink until the age of twenty-

one people who started at age fifteen were twice as likely to develop an abuse problem

and four time more likely to develop dependence problems.(NIAAA 7) The risk of

alcohol dependence and abuse decreases steadily with each increasing year of age of

drinking onset.(Collegian 7)

What are the effects of alcoholism? Alcohol has terrible effects on health, family,

and work. Other possible effects are intoxication, sensory alteration, and anxiety

reduction. Alcohol account for many preventable health conditions.(NIAAA 2) The

effects of alcohol on the body are cirrhosis of the liver, loss of brain cells, stomach

cancer, depression, tremors, and blackouts. An alcoholic in the family causes many

disruptions to the members of the family. They start arguments and fights by not

functioning or being drunk. They either do not attend family gatherings or disrupt them.

Some alcoholics can be abusive to other family members. A lot of families find

themselves in financial trouble, caused by the alcoholic using most of the money to buy

alcohol. Kids of an alcoholic suffer the most, listening to arguments and being the blame

of their parents drinking. The kids often feel at fault causing depression. Alcoholism

causes excessive absences at work. This is a sign of interference. Interference occurs

when the alcohol means more than the problems it causes.(”Alcoholism Defined”1)

Absences at work causes loss of money for both the employee and the employer. Up to

forty percent of industrial fatalities and forty seven percent of industrial injuries can be

linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism. Alcoholism also impairs productivity at

work. Alcohol seriously effects one out of every ten Americans. It is the cause of more

deaths, violence, family disruption, and job absenteeism than any other substance.

How do you diagnose alcoholism? Alcoholism is a tough disease for doctors to

diagnose. It is hard to diagnose because any of the physical effects can be viewed as

another medical problem. The alcoholic is in denial and is not going to tell the doctor

how much they drink unless asked. Most doctors don’t even ask how much they drink.

The best way to diagnose the problem is to do it your self. Dr. John Ewing developed a

questionnaire that has become an international instrument for identifying alcoholics. The

CAGE questionnaire is particularly popular with primary care givers. CAGE has also be

translated into several languages. The CAGE questionnaire goes as follows:

Have your ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?

Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?

Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of

a hangover (Eye opener)?(UNC 1)

Item responses on the CAGE are scored 0 or 1, with a higher score an indication of

alcohol problems. A total score of 2 or greater is considered clinically significant.

Is there a cure for alcoholism and what is the treatment? There is no cure for

alcoholism, once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. However there a treatments that will

stop drinking completely. You are then considered a recovering alcoholic. There are

many ways to stop drinking. There are detoxification centers. The purpose of

detoxification centers is to aid alcoholics through the withdrawal stages. Withdrawal

symptoms include sleeplessness, sweating, depression, headache, weakness, vomiting,

alcoholic seizures and delirium tremens (D.T.’s). There are support groups like

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) to help people stop drinking and start dealing with their

problems. There are also recovery homes and halfway houses that help aid alcoholics to

sobriety. There is no one way to recover from alcoholism. The family also needs help

recovering because alcoholism affects everyone in the family. There are support groups

for the family like ALA-non and ALA-teen. They could also seek family or group

counseling with a professional counselor. It takes a lot of time and commitment for the

alcoholic to stay sober. It also takes the family a long time to recover from the scars left

by alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous offers a twelve step program to recovery. It consists of

twelve steps and twelve traditions. The twelve steps to recovery are:

Step one: “WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our live had become


Step two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to


Step three: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we

understood him.”

Step four: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Step five: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of

our wrongs.”

Step six: “Were entirely ready to have God remove our shortcomings.”

Step seven: “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”

Step eight: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make

amends to them all.”

Step nine: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so

would injure them or others.”

Step ten: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong to promptly

admitted it.”

Step eleven: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact

with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the

power to carry that out.”

Step twelve: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to

carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all affairs.”

There are also twelve traditions that the people of Alcoholics Anonymous must

also follow. They are a following:

Tradition one: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on

A.A. unity.”

Tradition two: “For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority- a loving God as

he may express himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants;

they do not govern.”

Tradition three: “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

Tradition four: “Each group should be autonomous except in the matters affecting other

groups or A.A. as a whole.”

Tradition five: “Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the

alcoholic who still suffers.”

Tradition six: “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any

related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige

divert us from our primary purpose.”

Tradition seven: “Every A.A. group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside


Tradition eight: “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our

service centers may employ special workers.”

Tradition nine: “A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we create service boards or

committees directly responsible to those they serve.”

Tradition ten: “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A.

name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

Tradition eleven: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than

promotion; we need always maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.”

Tradition twelve: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever

reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

These are just a few of the things that you can expect if you seek treatment.

Alcohol still has a huge impact on Americans. Alcohol use has increased modestly since

1992.(NIAAA 4) In 1985 drugs and alcohol cost the United States 114 billion dollars.

People also spend 75 billion dollars on alcohol alone every year. In the U.S. two thirds

of the people over the age of twelve use alcohol.(NIAAA 3) Since 1992 drinking has

dramatically increased for 12-17 year olds.(NIAAA 4) These trends need to stop.

Parental objection is the second most important reason kids give for not using alcohol. In

1991 133 million people drank alcohol.(NIAAA 3) There are 47.8 million current

drinkers that have had a drink in the last month in the U.S.. Excessive alcohol

consumption causes more that 100,000 deaths annually in the U.S. and shows little sign

of decline. Drunk driving accidents account for twenty four percent of the deaths.

Alcohol related homicide and suicide account for nineteen percent of these deaths.

Alcohol is costing America is costing to much. Something must be done.

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