Thirty percent of Americans will find themselves in an alcohol-related car crash at some point in their lives. Approximately 513,000 people are injured in car crashes as a result of drunk driving. This averages out to fifty nine people an hour and to a person per minute. These statistics sourced from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, shows that one person suffering from alcoholism is enough to affect the rest of society.

What is alcoholism?

There are several types of alcohol related disorders beginning from binge drinking and alcohol abuse to alcohol dependency (also known as alcoholism). Binge drinking is the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages to the point of intoxication. Binge drinking can progress to alcohol abuse when drinking starts to interfere with a persons’ normal life. For example, the person may start to refuse to go to work and/or school and find their lives revolving around alcohol. It is a characteristic of an alcohol abuser to continue drinking despite the problems in their relationships caused by their drinking. Alcoholism is when a person needs alcohol to get through a day; at this point the alcohol addiction is so severe that the individual experiences withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking.

Causes of Alcoholism

There are various factors that can cause alcoholism. They can be categorized in the following:

  • Environmental: Children who had alcoholics as parents have a greater risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. Moreover, people who have easy access to alcohol also have a higher potential of becoming an alcoholic. Individuals who experienced abuse and/or still are subjected to abuse also have a greater risk of being addicted to drugs and alcohol.
  • Genetics: It is speculated that the gene that increases susceptibility to alcoholism is passed down in families; research shows that this is true however that gene is yet to be fully discovered. This is where the term “dry” and “wet” alcoholics were generated from. A wet alcoholic is someone who overuses alcohol on their own accord. A dry alcoholic is a term for a person who comes from a family inflicted with alcoholism and has the potential to become an alcoholic themselves due to the gene they possess.
  • Psychiatric: Individuals with certain psychiatric conditions such as, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety are more prone to being inflicted with alcoholism.
  • Tolerance: Often, alcohol abusers become resistant to alcoholic and need to consume higher levels of alcohol in order to reach their “high”. This increases their risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Moreover, people who naturally have a high tolerance for alcohol are also more likely to suffer from alcoholism.

Although a person may encompass the alcoholic gene it does not necessarily mean that they will ultimately suffer from alcoholism. Being aware of their family history, most people drink little to no alcohol and live successful lives. Although genetics can cause alcoholism, there are an equal number of people who suffer from alcoholism from normal families. On the same note, many victims of abuse and neglect tend to seek treatment and eventually break out of the cycle of abuse and addiction. Many people who did have parents who have suffered from alcoholism, avoid becoming alcoholics themselves so their own children will experience a normal childhood.

Alcoholism Symptoms

People inflicted with alcoholism suffer from these symptoms:

  • Consistent craving for alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Increasing tolerance for alcohol
  • Losing all self control; drinking while aware that alcohol is destroying their lives
  • Some alcoholics have a change in character when they are intoxicated.

It is typical for sufferers of alcoholism to:

  • Stop going to work and/or school
  • Stop participating in activities related to alcohol
  • Sacrifice important social and recreation activities
  • Drink alone
  • Not remember events or conversations which took place when they were drinking
  • Consume alcohol when it can harm themselves and others (i.e. Driving, operating machines , during pregnancy)

The withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism can range from mild to severe. The greater the addiction the more severe the symptoms are. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms listed here range from mild and increase in severity.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Craving for alcohol
  • Incoherence/difficulty thinking
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • High fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart arrthymias
  • Convulsions

It is advised that people suffering from alcoholism to seek medical supervision when quitting alcohol.

Alcoholism Treatment

Although there is no cure for alcoholism, there are many treatments available for one to overcome alcoholism. It is recommended to seek the help of an addiction specialist. Residential treatment is an optimal choice since most treatment centers are isolated which makes it impossible for alcoholics to obtain alcohol. Most treatment programs are modeled after the twelve step program associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. It is strongly suggested that patients consistently go to these meetings and their families attend Al-Anon Family meetings in order to support themselves and each other.

For safe withdrawal and an effective treatment your doctor might prescribe these medications to you:

  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Naltrexone (Revia)
  • Nalmefene (Revex)
  • Disulfiram(Antabuse)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Chlordiazepoxid (Librium)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)