WHAT is Alcoholism and DO I need to get help?

October 5, 2009 at 6:09 am 1 comment

A lot of times alcoholism can be hard to cure, because you may not even know that you are an alcoholic.  The first step is knowing that alcoholism is a disease, and that it is serious.  The second step is knowing, that there is help out there for especially YOU.  YOU are the most important person involved, and the one that we can help.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, which is also known as “alcohol dependence syndrome,” is a disease that is characterized by the following elements:

  • Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
  • Loss of control: The frequent inability to stop drinking once a person has begun.
  • Physical dependence: The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking. These symptoms are usually relieved by drinking alcohol or by taking another sedative drug.
  • Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get “high.”

Next we have in line is what is known as “alcohol abuse”.  It’s not as severe as alcoholism but can most definately lead up to alcoholism.

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse differs from alcoholism in that it does not include an extremely strong craving for alcohol, loss of control, or physical dependence. In addition, alcohol abuse is less likely than alcoholism to include tolerance (the need for increasing amounts of alcohol to get “high”). Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that is accompanied by one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:

  • Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities;
  • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving a car or operating machinery;
  • Recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for physically hurting someone while drunk;
  • Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the effects of alcohol.

While alcohol abuse is basically different from alcoholism, it is important to note that many effects of alcohol abuse are also experienced by alcoholics.

So ask yourself a few questions here if you are the one trying to figure out if this is a problem in your life, or that of a loved one.

What Are the Signs of a Problem?

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (eye opener)?
  • The Decision To Get Help

    Acknowledging that help is needed for an alcohol problem may not be easy. But keep in mind that the sooner a person gets help, the better are his or her chances for a successful recovery.

    Any reluctance you may feel about discussing your drinking with your health care professional may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and alcoholic people. In our society, the myth prevails that an alcohol problem is somehow a sign of moral weakness. As a result, you may feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in yourself. In fact, however, alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma or diabetes. Moreover, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous payoff–a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life.

    The time to act is NOW.  Don’t waste another minute thinking if you should get help, if you know it’s serious and this person could be off in a better position with getting help, call for help today.


    Entry filed under: Alcoholism.

    Pregnancy and Alcohol

    1 Comment Add your own

    • 1. lilybrave  |  November 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

      As a young woman in recovery from alcoholism, I feel so blessed to have found Sate Harbor Treatment Center for Women, where I was able to leave my old life behind and cultivate a new healthy one. I hope that all the women out there who are suffering from alcohol addiction find a place like this where they can be reborn.

      If you want help with your alcoholism, there is a family waiting for you at Safe Harbor.



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