Once viewed as a simple lack of control over one's excesses, alcoholism is now recognized as one of the more debilitating diseases of modern society which affects millions of people all over the world. And yet this disease continues to be dismissed by many as an "It can't happen to me" malady until the individual is so intertwined in the clutches of alcoholism that desperate measures have to be resorted to. Society today, not only accepts consumption of alcoholic beverages at social events, but also seems to regard it with a favorable eye. And hence, an individual is almost encouraged to participate in social, celebratory drinking. However, when he finds himself unable to curtail the amount he drinks, or begins to long for these instances which call for the consumption of alcohol, or even begins to experience psychological symptoms such as feeling the urgent need to get drunk as soon as possible, and wanting to stay that way for every moment of his wakefulness, that his drinking habits are perceived as a threat, not only to himself, but also to others around him.
Alcoholism is defined as the compulsive need to drink, even when the practice of drinking begins to hamper your health, cause strains and tensions in the family and when you need to resort to ever increasing quantities to derive that 'high' that alcohol gives you. It also involves you worrying about not having enough alcohol to consume and obsessing about ways to wean out more sources. Similarly, if you feel the need to be intoxicated in order to function 'normally' then you might be in the category of people who are not indulgent, but dependent on alcohol.
The most worrying of all symptoms of alcoholism is that the victim is more often than not, in the state of denial. This means that he is nor only defensive about his habit, but resentful about others commenting on it, simply because he himself is trying hard to convince himself that there's nothing wrong about how much he drinks, or worse, he just doesn't find anything abnormal about it. Also, many alcoholics are deceptively natural in their appearance and interactions, thus alleviating any cause of worry about just how dependant on alcohol they are until they're overcome by their addiction.
The most prevalent causes of alcoholism are as physical as they are psychological. An individual who has a family history of alcoholism is genetically more susceptible to addiction. Also, if he is known to suffer from bouts of severe depression, or if his stress-coping mechanisms are poorly developed, he may recourse to alcohol to blot out his despair. Also, if you drink as a means to simply while away your time, you are already reeling on the verge of plunging into the deep, dark void that is alcoholism.
The physical manifestations of alcohol addiction can be severe to the point of being life threatening. By itself, alcohol is deemed responsible for a majority of deaths around the world, be they through diseases stem out of excessive consumption, or mishaps that take place under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol abuse can single-handedly lead to liver cirrhosis, renal failure and several gastrointestinal complications. Alcohol also makes your blood pressure shoot up, which puts your heart at a greater risk of failure or stroke. Alcoholics may find themselves to be hypoglycemic, as alcohol disrupts the release of glucose to the blood stream. Over time, alcohol can even cause severe neurological impairments like distorted thinking and even dementia. Psychologically, alcohol abuse also leads to the individual becoming estranged from his family and even resorting to domestic violence or even pathological patterns of behavior, either to fund their consumption of alcohol, or under the effects of its intoxication.
If, in all honesty, you have even the slightest inkling of a doubt that you're alcohol consumption patterns do tend to border on the high side, or if your family or even friends seem to be a lot more concerned about your 'binges' than they were in the past, then it's time you had a heart-to-heart with your doctor. What you must remember is that when it comes to determining whether your drinking is taking its toll on you, you are not the best judge. Your doctor will refer you to appropriate counselors to deal with your habit, based on what level of treatment he deems necessary. If your drinking is just marginally higher than the recommended levels, he will simply ask you to curtail your habit. If you are indeed in the throes of addiction, a detoxification program will be prescribed which then needs to be followed up by counseling and group therapy sessions. For more excruciating withdrawal symptoms, you may also be prescribed medication to ease your process of recovery. However, it is essential that you take the initiative to avoid gathering and interactions where you might be coaxed into a drink and refrain completely from any form of alcoholic beverage until your counselor permits it.
Remember, it's never too late to begin; only that it's you who has to take the initiative. All it takes is one firm resolve to step away from the vicious cycle alcohol steeps you in you'll soon find that there's so much more that life has to offer!
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