What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence syndrome exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Craving:  An overpowering desire to drink
  • Loss of control: The lack of the ability to stop drinking once they have begun.
  • Physical dependence: This occurs when the consumption of alcohol is stopped and withdrawal symptoms begin. These can include, but are not limited to: nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety. Relief from these symptoms can only be accomplished by drinking or by taking sedative drug.
  • Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get “high.”

No matter what one drinks or how long they’ve been drinking, it is the person’s uncontrollable need for alcohol along with the consequences that befall them as a result that defines alcoholism.

This is why most alcoholics can’t just use their willpower to stop drinking. They are frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a craving that can be as strong as the need for essentials like food and water.

If you think you or a loved one may be an alcoholic, the following twenty questions can be a helpful indicator. If three or more can be answered in the affirmative, chances are that person is an alcoholic.

  1. Do you lose time from work due to your drinking?
  2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
  3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
  4. Is drinking affecting your reputation?
  5. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
  6. Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of your drinking?
  7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
  8. Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
  9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
  10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
  11. Do you want a drink the next morning?
  12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
  14. Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
  15. Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
  16. Do you drink alone?
  17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory (blackout) as a result of your drinking?
  18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
  19. Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
  20. Have you ever been in a hospital or institution on account of drinking?

Alcoholism Affecting Entire Person

Although there are occasionally individuals who are able to recover without assistance, the vast majority of alcoholics require help to recover from this disease. Dr. Harry Thiebout, a psychiatrist in the late Thirties, described alcoholism as a “disease of the body and of the mind.” That is what makes it so difficult to treat and why relapse is such a problem.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition,
published by the American Psychiatric Association, defines it as a disease as well.

It has been scientifically proven that it is an inherited disease that can be passed down from generation to generation and can affect one member of a family, none or several. It can even skip a generation.

Receiving Help is Crucial

As with any disease, if it is left untreated too long it can cause serious health and mental health issues. In more severe cases, alcoholism can lead to death. Call Riviera Recovery for guidance and treatment options at 866-478-8799

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