Alcoholism - Street ( Licensed : CC BY-SA 3.0, Author: Tamorlan) Source: Wikimedia Commons
In my previous article which can be found here, i wrote about alcohol and the chemical in it. Today i will be discussing about alcoholism, its effects and various stages.
Some years back in the estate where i used to live, there was this rich man who was my neighbor. He always get drunk every evening and this was a big problem for his wife. The lady walked up to me and explained the situation to me, she told me to always give her husband a helping hand whenever i see him drunk , and return him to her house as to avoid disgrace and most times injury.
She said to me that "her husband wasn't a drunk from the outset, and that she was surprised of the level at which the husband takes alcohol" , she suggested that it was a spiritual attack. I didn't completely agree with her on that, though it could be possible, but howbeit, i knew that alcoholism don't start in one day, its an organic process. Like that of my neighbor, it took time before it became critical, as day goes by he couldn't refrain from drinking and becoming drunk.
Alcoholism is the most serious drug problem in modern society. It is hard to define because its social manifestations vary. Some persons define alcoholism as any repeated drinking that is above the normal for a community. But if one looks at alcoholism as a process, what is significant is the factor of dependence.
Just like many other drugs, alcohol can produce psychological problem drinking, the sufferer is constantly trying to escape his psychic difficulties in drink. In physical dependence, alcohol has become necessary for the body to function, and its removal produces extreme physical effects. The point at which drinking becomes alcoholism is not decided by the quantity drunk, or even by how far it dominates a person's social life. What distinguishes the alcoholic is that whether he realizes it or not his drinking is compulsive.
Social, symptomatic, and Inveterate Drinking
The Box Social Drinking Parlour (Licensed: CC BY-SA 3.0, Author: Visitor7) Source: Wikimedia Commons
Alcohol's social uses are many. The relaxing effects of alcohol reduce inhibitions and relieve anxieties, so alcohol in small quantities acts as a social lubricant, decreasing self - consciousness and increasing congeniality, confidence, and belongingness. As a result, it has been associated with every aspect of man's nature.
Sometimes casual drunkenness is encouraged and viewed with amusement; and yet alcohol has a place in much of our social and sacred ritual, even up to the celebration of religious mystery and of birth and death. The varied uses of alcohol are an accepted part of the traditions integrating the social order.
As individuals, we can worship or despise the release that alcohol can bring but a normal attitude for our society, is that, used sensibly, alcohol is one of the earth's gifts to man - and that, taken in moderation, alcoholic drinks give pleasure at little cost to body and soul.
Today the conditions of our society seem to encourage people to turn more and more often to alcohol to escape stress whether the pressure is of work or of their own psyche. This is called symtomatic drinking. At first, the relief the drinker seeks is easily available. But gradually he achieves it only through and greater quantities of drink, as tolerance to the drug increases. Eventually, his psychological dependence is supported, and finally displaced, by physical dependence with disastrous effects upon his body, his finances and his family and social life.
There are also societies in which a very large intake of alcohol is considered normal among certain groups (inveterate drinking) . Here intoxication and need may never be noticed: physical dependence is reached without any of the usual psychological symptoms or social and financial consequences. Yet in the inveterate drinker, alcohol may be present in the bloodstream every hour of the day and night.
The physical consequences are present, too, and if the inveterate drinker is deprived of his normal intake (eg through having to go into hospital for some reason) acute withdrawal symptoms will appear.
Inveterate drinking is most common in wine-producing countries, but it is our society-among bartenders and dealers in alcohol, and in some business circles, where alcoholism may arise more through social custom and an expense account than through the pressure of psychic stress.
Stages in Alcoholism
The three stages of drinking. It's like the circle of life. (License: Pulic Domain, Author:Jeremy Keith) Source: Flickr
Social drinking can lead to alcoholism, because the drinker starts to turn regularly to alcohol for relief from stress, or because his social drinking is so heavy that the beginnings of dependence are noticed.
Early alcoholism is marked by the beginning of memory blackouts. Increasing dependence is shown by surreptitious drinking and the urgency of first drinks. The drinker feels guilty , but cannot discuss the problem.
Basic alcoholism, here the drinker can no longer stop unless forced to by intoxication. He bolsters himself with excuses and grandiose behavior, but his promises and resolutions fail. He starts avoiding family and friends, and neglects food, interests, work, and money. Physical deterioration sets in. Finally tolerance for alcohol decreases.
Chronic alcoholism is marked by further moral deterioration, irrational thought, vague fears, fantasies, and psychotic behavior. Physical damage continues. The drinker has no alibis left, and can no longer take any step to recovery for himself. Reaching this point may have taken from 5 to 25 years.
Terminal alcoholism is the end result if drinking continues. Irreversible mental and physical deterioration usually end in death.
Recovery, psychologically, the patient regains the desire to be helped, thinks more rationally, and develops hope, moral commitment, outside interests, self-respect and contentment in abstinence. Finally he recovers the respect of family and friends, and the confidence of employers.
Who is an Alcoholic?
Alcoholism through symptomatic drinking is thought of by experts as an illness, relating to underlying personality disorder. It may even be linked with a metabolic defect of some sort. But also important are availability, social environment, and upbringing. Consequently, alcoholism predominates in certain social groups rather than others: senior executives and their wives, traveling salesmen, journalists, actors, and the children of alcoholics.
Past cultural factors also modify society's influence: In Nigeria, alcoholism among Igbo and Yoruba men is rare. Over 10% of men are alcoholics and at about 0.8 to 1.5% of women too. But more recently the proportion of women alcoholics is increasing.
Physiological and Health Effects
The ordinary hangover shows how alcohol can irritate the stomach. In alcoholism, the stomach can be constantly inflamed (gastritis) and eventually the intestines too (gastro-enteritis) . There are symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, chilly sensations, and loss of appetite. The risk of ulceration is high.
Through incapacitation and overriding preoccupation with alcoholic neglects his food. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies result. Common manifestations include beriberi and pellagra- both due especially to B complex vitamin deficiencies. Beriberi involves inflammation of the nerves all over the body; pellagra affects the nerves, digestion and skin.
Cirrhosis of the liver is another effect, the liver soon recovers from an occasional bout of alcohol. But alcoholism often produces the condition called cirrhosis: the organ shrivels, its cells are largely replaced by fibrous tissue, and its functioning deteriorates. 10% of chronic alcoholics have cirrhosis of the liver, and 75% of people with cirrhosis have an alcoholic history.
However, the main reason is not the alcoholic's self-poisoning with alcohol, but his neglect of nutrition: his cirrhosis is the product of protein and vitamin B deficiencies.
One or two average strength drinks a day are normally no hazard to health. But sometimes any drinking is inadvisable, eg: if the person is seriously overweight, or if he has recently taken sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-histamine (anti-allergic) tablets; or if he suffers from epilepsy, liver disorders, or stomach or duodenal ulcers.
Treatment and Conclusion
Trying to get assistance for an alcoholic is a great decision. Though the recovering process takes time even after rehabilitation. The recovery plan differs from individuals ranging specific needs and treatment. The treatment for alcoholism is divided into three parts.
But before then, the first step to treating an alcoholic is to acknowledge that there is a problem, then the help of health care professional should be sought for.
Detoxification is the first stage taken, it is advisable to complete this stage before moving to the next stage which is "Rehabilitation" which involves intensive treatment programs and recovery programs and after then the "Maintenance" stage which involves a continues counseling and medication. In the end the patient will become happy and live an alcohol free life.
Thank you for reading!
 What is Alcoholism?
 What is alcohol abuse disorder, and what is the treatment?
 Alcoholism - Wikipedia
 Alcoholism:signs, symptoms and treatment
 Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
 Am I An Alcoholic? The Difference Between Casual Drinking and Alcoholism