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Alcoholism:Is It a Disease or Choice?

Updated on November 17, 2014

Great Debate

Is alcoholism a disease? Or is alcoholism a choice? Many will argue both ways. Is it hereditary? Is it preconceived? There is one thing all will agree upon. It CAN and DOES destroy lives. It becomes a life-long process for an alcoholic to be clean and sober.


  • Numbness and tingling
  • Neglecting to eat
  • Not caring about physical appearance
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Episodes of violence when drinking
  • Drinking alone
  • Aggressive or hostile when confronted with the drinking
  • Lack of control over drinking
  • Making excuses to drink
  • Secretive behavior
  • Shaking in the morning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Need for daily or regular use to function


Affects of Alcoholism

Alcoholism has many affects on an individual.

  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Behavioral
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Relationships
  • Legal
  • Physical


A Closer Look


Mood swings can occur in alcoholics. It could be a result of feeling guilty. Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to the mood swings and the feeling of guilt. If a person is a drinking to cover stress, anxiety, or depression, alcohol will only add to the situation. When they sober up, they are only more depressed. Drinking is not an escape, it increases the depression.

Mental and Behavioral

Drinking alcohol impairs one's judgement. Some will even experience "blackouts". They don't remember anything the next day about the time they were drinking. Those who drink do things they will not normally do when they are sober.

Social and Relationships

If a alcoholic is confronted or criticized about their drinking, they have a tendency to withdraw from the critics usually friends and family. Communication becomes strained among the individuals and the person suffering from alcoholism. This increases the need or more and more time spent drinking. Many often drink alone or on occasion socially.

Financial and Legal

Individuals who abuse alcohol have poor work performance issues and frequent attendance issues. As a result, this may cause a loss of their job. The excessive use of alcohol requires them to spend a large amount of money on it in order to continue drinking. An excessive consumption of alcohol could lead to a driving while intoxicated traffic violation. Besides traffic offenses, they could have large fines associated with the violation and a loss of their license. Alcohol impairs their judgement which could lead to fights or even disorderly conduct. All of these resulting in more fines and more legal problems.


Health problems associated with alcoholism are heart and liver disease. More specifically when it comes to liver disease it is usually cirrhosis of the liver. These physical conditions are irreversible.


Complications Associated With Alcoholism

  • Depression
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Esophageal bleeding
  • Brain degeneration
  • Cancers of the larynx, esophagus, liver and colon
  • Nerve damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart muscle damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Liver disease (alcohol hepatitis)
  • Poor nutrition due to vitamins not absorbing properly
  • Severe memory loss
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Hand in Hand

Every affect of alcoholism impacts the other. All of these directly relate to each other. Mood swings will impact their judgement which can lead to relationship problems. Relationship problems can escalate into financial and legal problems. In a sense, you can't and won't have one without having the other.

Information and Statistics

Studies have shown alcohol is the drug of choice for children and adolescents. Many people have developed what is known as "binge" drinking. "Binge" drinking is having five or more drinks on one occasion. 35% of adults developed "binge" drinking by the age of 19.

100,000 deaths in the United States are a result of excessive alcohol consumption. The causes of alcohol deaths are drunk driving, falls, cancer, stroke, alcohol poisoning, and cirrhosis of the liver as well as other liver diseases.

Alcohol is a depressant. It affects the central nervous system.

Disease Theory

In medical and scientific societies, alcoholism has become accepted as a disease. Studies suggest an addiction stimulation is produced during metabolism of alcohol. This stimuli stays in the system longer than alcohol and triggers addictive cravings. The individual gives into the cravings each time needing more and more to curb the cravings. It progresses until the alcohol has gained control, and the individual has lost complete control.


Most people feel it is the choice of an individual to drink. A choice which leads to various diseases. It becomes an addiction for the person. Most people believe alcoholism is a choice of the individual not a preconceived condition or inherited condition. The same choice many people choose when they choose to use drugs or engage in any other activity which leads to an addiction.


Each individual has their own opinion on alcoholism. Those lives who it has touched will have a more strong opinion on how they feel. Even though medical and scientific societies believe it is a disease. Most people believe it is a choice which leads to disease.

Disease or Choice?

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Submit a Comment

  • proudmamma profile image

    proudmamma 5 years ago

    Thanks STEVEW13 for taking time to read my hub and comment. You are right, it is a very tough subject. It has strong arguments on both sides. I value people's opinions on the subject. You are starts as a choice....and compulsion is the disease. Thanks again.

  • STEVEW13 profile image

    Steve Wright 5 years ago from Norwich, England

    This is a really good hub on a very tough subject, whereby I do believe that it is a choice, but it is at the same time a disease. Everything in life is a choice, as far as alcoholism goes that choice was picking up the bottle the very first time, all the way through to picking it up the last time. But the truth is over time that choice becomes compulsion and that is the disease. Voted up and thanks for sharing.

  • Peanutritious profile image

    Tara Carbery 6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

    Great hub! I find it shocking that alcoholism isn't classed as an illness. Once you take that first drink, a chemical reaction occurs which means you can't stop. It takes over your life. Life is unbearable at times and the numbness that can be achieved through alcohol can be very seductive. Thanks for your kind comments about my hub too.

  • proudmamma profile image

    proudmamma 6 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Charlu. Great job on your huge accomplishment!

  • Charlu profile image

    Charlu 6 years ago from Florida

    I think most people consider alcoholics as a person who requires or craves it.

    Someone once told me that if alcohol and it's consumption no matter how large or small, causes problems in your life whether they be emotional, work, physical, or relationship related, then ALCOHOL is a problem.

    That along with getting to know me, has kept me without it for over 21/2 years.

    Thanks for a great hub