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Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper

Alcoholism is a deadly disease in which an individual is addicted to alcohol and its relaxing effects. There is a theory that holds that ?addiction fits many criteria used to define other diseases and should therefore be treated as a disease. The individual depends on alcohol to get through the day or night, ?solve? their problems, ease their depression, or no reason at all. According to the Encyclopedia of Health-Substance Abuse, an addiction is an uncontrollable compulsion to use a drug or other substance. Alcoholism can be attained in two different ways. Alcoholism can be a genetic predisposition in which alcoholism runs in the family or is hereditary. The other factor is that of the environment in which one may live. One or both of these factors can be taken into account when alcoholism is present. The biopsychosocial model is a theory that states that addiction is caused by the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors with an individual.

?Drinking behavior runs on a continuum starting with social drinking to careless drinking to problem drinking and finally alcoholism. Any stage before alcohol dependency is reversible.? (Cornett, 10) The difference between problem drinking and alcoholism is that problem drinking is psychological dependence on alcohol, which usually is followed by complications with health and social life. A problem drinker will not obsess about alcohol, he or she has not yet developed an increased tolerance and do not suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms if he or she goes with out alcohol. In alcoholism, the individual has a psychological and physiological dependence on alcohol. He or she spends alot of time drinking, obsessing about alcohol. An alcoholic has developed a high tolerance to it requiring more and more to get high. Once an alcoholic starts drinking he or she is unable to stop. Once an alcoholic, the individual is no longer ?in charge? of how much alcohol he or she drinks once drinking has begun. (Cornett, 10-12)

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, ??there are three types of alcoholics. Type I alcoholics are characterized as born alcoholics, with a genetic defect in their endorphin-producing system. They drink to make up for the lack of endorphins, make them feel a false sense of well-being. Unfortunately alcohol further weakens the brain?s ability to produce endorphins.? This differs from the Type II alcoholic who are ?stressed-induced drinkers, born with normal brain chemistry. As a result of their drinking to relieve stress, their natural levels of endorphins are reduced. Temporary alcoholic behavior occurs.? The last type of alcoholics are the ?? ?drug-induced? alcoholic group. These people once had normal brain chemistry, but continued use of alcohol has weakened the brain?s ability to produce a normal amount of endorphins. Continued drinking leads to a shortage of endorphins and to long-term alcoholic behavior.?

Alcohol is a depressant, it reduces activity of the body system or function especially the central nervous system. ?Depending on how much is taken in, alcohol may help bring about relaxation, or induce sleep or if taken in larger doses may act as an anasthetic or painkilling agent. (Hermes, 30) According to the Encyclopedia of Health, author William J. Hermes states that ?In moderate doses, (one or two drinks) alcohol can make an average adult drinker feel a sense of relaxation and increases self-confidence.

The effects of alcohol on a person?s personality are of wide range. The following effects are characteristic of that of which resides on one who is drunk. The individual is relaxed, most often, or happy depending on their mood before they began to drink. The reflexes are slowed, blood vessels dilate and thus the body feels warm but ends up losing heat more easily. A drunk person will sway or stumble when standing or walking. Speech could be slurred or unclear, the person might become rowdy, violent, angry, or abusive. The thought process is temporarily shut down depending on how much alcohol is taken into the body. Unfortunately good judgements are usually unable to be made while one is intoxicated. In addition, if a decision must be made it is common for the three words ?I don?t care? to be spoken. A drunk individual may appear to be care-free, but is unable to realize repercussions of actions made while he or she is intoxicated. As if these affects are not enough the internal damage is great also. Alcohol kills brain cells, destroys the liver and damages the heart and the stomach.

There are many long-term affects of alcohol on an alcoholic or any individual who uses alcohol in excess. The liver is greatly affected and might become impaired, chances of cirrhosis of the liver or alcoholic hepatitis are also very high. Pancreatitis, which is the swelling of the pancrease often occurs in alcoholics. Diseases of the stomach, gastritis and bleeding ulcers are all diseases of heavy drinking. (Hermes, There is also emotional and psychological effects that alcohol on the brain.

The three main criteria that affect the drunkenness of a person are weight, food present in stomach when drinking, and the amount of alcohol that is in the blood. The amount of fat and water that is in a woman?s body versus a man?s body make it easier for a woman to become drunk. The alcohol gets into the bloodstream faster in a woman?s body because of her body chemistry. The weight of a woman is also less than that of most men.

The Blood Alcohol Level of an individual determines the drunkenness of a person. From .05% to .10% BAL the brain begins to lose control of thought processes and coordination. From .20% to .40% BAL the brain starts to shut down completely. Loss of memory, lack of emotional control, unconsciousness, and even coma are all results of the dangers in alcohol. At .50 % BAL, the drunk person faces death because of alcohol poisoning or lack of oxygen.

Families are greatly affected by alcoholics. Families have been torn apart because of economic problems related to alcoholism. Alcoholics usually breed dysfunctional families sometimes with with verbal, emotional and physical, and sexual abuse. The parents could be children of alcoholics, second or third year alcoholics or divorce. These factors greatly influences on relationships that one has. (Wiley, 14) In most cases, being a victim or even the seeing of abuse of any kind or alcohol related abuse causes trama in one?s life.

The NIDA did a survey in 1990, this survey stated that ?103 million American had used alcohol in some form prior to the survey. This includes five million teenagers. Alcohol is the most widely used drug. It is easily attained, and most households have it in some form in their home. Most children and teenagers begin to drink as sort of a rite-of-passage from childhood to adulthood. This is the crucial time that could affect a young one?s entire future. Some alcoholics started drinking at an extremely young age. Parents could have let them have champagne at a wedding, or to celebrate a family get-together, unfortunately, these practices may backfire to bring about one more alcoholic in society.

There are many different treatments that alcoholics may turn to. The most important thing that the alcoholic must do is to want to stop drinking. They need care for their problem with alcohol. Most will go through withdrawal as the first weeks and maybe even days go by. (Powter 180) Many alcoholics try to distract themselves from drinking. If they can put off that urge to drink for even five minutes the individual might forget about drinking for ten or fifteen. There are many rehabilitations, support groups and treatments that an alcoholic can go through.

Alcoholics Anonymous is, by far, the most famous alcoholic treatment program. According to a critical review by Alcoholics Anonymous, this group is a ?world-wide organization of men and women who help each other solve their common problem of alcoholism. They offer to share recovery experiences with others who have a drinking problem and want to do something about it.? The group began in 1935 and presently has 85, 000 local groups in the United States, Canada and about 130 other countries. The people in each group meet to share their similar stories and experiences with their drinking problems. Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious or medical group, but people concerned with recovery of their many members. It is the intention of A.A. to make sure that the sobriety of their members is continued throughout their lives. The group is free, but accepts contributions from members to cover expenses. ( critical review of A.A.)

Most treatments are famous for having twelve steps to their program, A.A. is no different. These steps are the following:

1. Admitting we are powerless and that life has become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a greater power than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn to our will and our lives over to god as we understood him.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. We make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends with them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. We 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.

12. 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 our affairs.

These steps describe ? ?the key attitudes that A.A. believes necessary for recovery from alcoholism. A man named William Wilson is an author of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson outlined these twelve steps as awakening, conscious, continued, amends, willing, humbly, ready, admit, searching, decision, believe, and admitted to sobriety. ( Hermes, 90)

Al-Anon is a group made up family and friends of alcoholics. This group is involved in the education of family and friends of alcoholics. This information helps solve the many problems associated with alcoholic families and their friends. Al-Anon works in cooperation with A.A., but is not a branch. The support group also has a teen-age division called Alateen.

According to D.J. Cornette, M.A. , there are basics to drinking for a ?problem drinker?. These basics keep the blood alcohol level a safe percent. This enable the drinker to keep self-control and practice safe and responsible drinking. The basics are the following:

1. Enjoy one drink per hour.

2. Watch drinking portions.

3. Three drinking hours on days that you drink.

4. Eat before and during drinking.

5. Plan on two or three alcohol-free days per week.

The book Seven Weeks to Safe Drinking- How to Safely Moderate Your alcohol Intake, is a book written to help those faced with a realization that their ?social drinking? has turned into more than just social drinking. The book is a self-help guide to drink less.

Alcoholism is a problem that has affected many people. The many different reasons that people become alcoholic mostly begins with history. If the people in society could learn discipline, self-control and moderation in using alcohol maybe the problems the world faces would not be so detrimental to the future generations. Most importantly, the children or the world are the future, if they are put in a position that could alter their lives than it will also alter everyone else?s. Let the parents of the world not put their children in the position to drink. Our future starts with the present.


Cornett, D.J. ?Seven Weeks to Safe Drinking?; Carol Publishing Group, United States


Hermes, William J. ?Substance Abuse- The Encyclopedia of Health?; Chelsea House Publishers, New York, Philadelphia 1978.

Miller, Scott D. , Berg, Insoo Kim ?The Miracle Method?; W. W. Norton & Company; New York, London 1995.

Powter, Susan ?Sober?And Staying That Way?; Simon and Schuster; New York 1997.

Wiley, James ?Power Recovery- the Twelve Steps fo a New Generation?; Paulist Press; New York, Mahwah, NJ 1995.

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