Understanding AlcoholismAlcoholismo

Understanding Alcoholism

Alcoholism is an addictive disease in which the victim becomes dependent on a drug-alcohol. The disease affects the alcoholic physically, psychologically, and behaviorally. Alcoholism is not a character weakness or moral shortcoming; it is an unrelenting, progressive disease that leads to death or brain damage. But recovery is possible by stopping drinking.

Effects of Alcoholism

Behavioral Effects

Drinking dominates the behavior of alcoholics. They develop a personal relationship with it that they keep private and guard jealously. They give it their time, their money, and their attention, usually at the expense of family and friends. They lie for it, deceive for it, and think about it constantly. They even risk losing their families and their lives for it. And despite all the harm it causes them, they are unable to control it.

Health Risks

Alcoholics have a greatly increased risk of heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and many other serious diseases. Furthermore, they don't recover the way other people do. Unless drinking is stopped, the eventual outcome is death-death from organ failure, death from accidents or suicide, death from cancer or common infectious diseases.

Physical Effects

To the human body, alcohol is a poison; it kills cells. That's why heavy drinking over a long period of time can eventually destroy the vital organs including the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. Chronic alcoholism also damages the digestive tract and interferes with the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to many serious diseases.

Psychological Effects

Alcoholics have a constant need to rationalize their drinking in order to explain away the problems it creates. That requires manipulating reality and leads to a type of distorted thinking known as "alcohol-think." One of the most common forms of alcohol-think is "denial"-denying that drinking is a problem, or that any of the problems in their lives are caused by their drinking.

Publication Source: National Institutes of Health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Online Source: National Institutes of Health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

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