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Alcohol Addiction

Updated on April 2, 2014

What is Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disorder that you cannot diagnose by a simple medical test. It is normally recognized by displayed behavior. It is unfortunate that alcoholism is the number one drug problem in the United States. Statistics state that there are more than 12 million alcoholics in America. Many people are killed by alcohol related accidents every year. It is estimated that someone dies from alcohol related illness or accidents every 30 seconds. An alcoholic can be anyone, a mother, a professional, an adolescent, even a teacher. Alcoholics do not fit into one type of personal or professional category. They can be almost anyone, at almost any age.

Alcoholism is a serious disease; it is both a physical and a mental. The alcoholic has obsessive mental thoughts that encompass thoughts of drinking; the alcoholic can also have a physical addiction to the drug as well. Be careful of stereotyping the alcoholic, many alcoholics live very productive lives. They hold down jobs, and care for their families, not all alcoholics are helpless and hopeless ‘drunks’. Never the less, it is a damaging disease that is physically harmful and mentally harmful, not only to the alcoholic but family and friends too.

How to Recognize Alcoholism

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Symptoms of alcoholism may include;

  • The inability to stop drinking once you start
  • Missing work because of drinking
  • Family, marital or relationship problems because of alcohol
  • You may have a strong craving for alcohol
  • Lack of self control when you drink
  • Finding reasons to drink, either to celebrate or because of sadness

Causes of Alcoholism

There are many apparent causes of alcoholism; there is no one direct cause of alcoholism. There are theories behind the reason one becomes an alcoholic. It seems that each person has their own personal story behind what caused them to become addicted to alcohol. I have listed of few of the apparent causes of alcoholism; this is not a comprehensive list, but some apparent causes of the disease.

  • Family history-it seems that you are more likely to become an alcoholic if you come from a family history of drinkers and alcoholics

  • Depression-some people drink in order to numb mental pain from any number of life situations.

  • Physical pain-alcohol seems to relieve pain and therefore becomes ‘medicine’ for a person who is experiencing acute or chronic pain symptoms.

  • Socializing-when your social group tends to drink heavily; you will tend to drink heavily. Alcohol may start as an added experience to the party or social event, but can soon quietly turn to the reason you are attending or hosting the social event.

  • Allergy-Some theories suggest an apparent allergy or abnormal reaction to alcohol combined with a mental obsession for the drug. This theory was first proposed in 1933 by Dr. William Silkworth.

Alcoholism Stages

Many alcoholics experience various stages of their alcoholism.

When the alcoholic first begins drinking, it may have been purely for social reasons, or to unwind when they feel tense. As time progresses they may depend on alcohol more and more to feel “good”. Soon the reasons to drink are blurred between the original social or therapeutic aspect of their drinking and a physical or mental addiction to the alcohol itself.

As their disease progresses their behavior may change in order to hide their problem.

If you are an alcoholic you may begin to hide your drinking from friends and family members in order to avoid scrutiny from them. You may have a certain time of day that you feel a particular urge to drink, and experience discomfort such as sweating and or nervousness if you are not able to drink. You may lose interest in activities that you normally do, or avoid situations where you are not able to drink. You may feel the urge to bring alcohol to work, school, or keep it in your car. You will desire alcohol to be near to you at all times eventually. When you are not drinking you may be thinking of when you will have the opportunity to drink next, and once you obtain the alcohol you will drink it very fast with the intention of getting intoxicated.

If you think you may be an alcoholic you can ask yourself these questions; Do you desire to drink as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you thinking of having a drink long before you get off work or home? Do you find yourself looking for reasons to drink such as, to celebrate or because you are feeling sad or lonely? Is alcohol a coping mechanism for you? Do you feel guilt when you drink? These questions should consider if you think you may have an alcohol problem.

Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have alcohol or enough alcohol in their system.

Withdrawal symptoms include;

  • nausea
  • shaking
  • dizziness
  • sweating when you are not drinking

Severe symptoms from withdrawal can be very dangerous such as

  • seizures
  • confusion
  • hallucinations
  • fevers

Alcohol is a very strong and addictive drug and can affect anyone negatively if they drink too much or too often.

Some people with serious withdrawal symptoms may need to go into an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation center for treatment to ensure their safety, and to obtain assistance in getting off of the drug. There are many alcohol treatment programs available for persons who are struggling with alcohol, both inpatient and outpatient services can be obtained easily.

Alcoholism Today

Today alcoholism is seen as a disease, it was once seen as a moral failure. We now understand that it is a complex disease that can have many symptoms and causes. If you know someone who is suffering from alcoholism it is important that you are as supportive as possible, without enabling their habits. We should not look down on people who suffer from alcoholism, but try to understand that they have a disease and that they are suffering as well. Education is the key to treating alcoholism, there is hope for a person who suffers from this disease if they are willing to accept that they need help and offered the assistance they need. By educating people of the dangers of drinking too much and too often is our best hope to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place.

If you are suffering from alcoholism or think that you may be in the beginning stages of the disease, there is hope for you. You can obtain help for free at Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment programs that are available. There are also many programs the accept a wide variety of insurance programs, and offer discounted treatment rates for clients who are paying cash.

Treatments for Alcoholism

There are many treatments available for alcoholism, some are offered for free ,and some are very costly. If you want help to quit drinking, one of the most well known treatments for alcoholism is a program call Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a wonderful program that offers free help for anyone facing the problems stemming from alcohol consumption. There are daily meetings scheduled at all times of the day and night for people to attend and receive help and support in getting sober and staying sober.

AA was founded by two men, Bill Wilson, also known as Bill W. in AA, who suffered from alcoholism and lost his career and damaged his family behind his drinking and Dr. Robert Smith know as Dr. Bob in AA. Dr. Bob who also had suffered professional and personal failings because of alcohol was the first person who Bill W. successfully treated with the fledgling program that is now known as Alcoholics Anonymous.

There are several other treatment programs that are spiritually based, medically based and psychologically based. They can be structured as day treatment, outpatient services, and varying lengths of inpatient treatment facilities.

Dad as a young father
Dad as a young father | Source
Dad  was one of the coaches for my brother's little league
Dad was one of the coaches for my brother's little league | Source

My experience

I was devastated when my father was killed in a drunken driving accident when I was 24 years old. My father, whom I loved deeply, was ripped from my life when he was killed while returning home the day after his wedding. He had secretly gone out of town and married a woman he had known for a very short time. His mother had recently died and he had been on a long drinking binge. The only thing I will say about their relationship is that they met in a bar and continued to drink together for many months. They ended up getting married out of town and drinking for hours before and after their wedding.

Only hours after their marriage they were seen arguing in the vehicle by several witnesses, my father opening the passenger door as if to jump out. Unfortunately, they eventually lost control of the car and flipped it several times in the desert. My father was thrown out of the car and died instantly from his injuries; his wife lost her arm and sustained other serious injuries.

Alcohol caused a lot of sorrow in my father’s life. He, like so many others, missed out on many of his career, family, and relationship goals. He has been gone for many years now and I still miss him. He was my idol, my rock, my funny man. I only wish he had been able to work through whatever mental and physical pain he experienced during his all too short life and would have been able to defeat the alcohol monster.

Unfortunately, because of the pain and sorrow he caused so many in his life time it was a bitter sweet parting for many who loved him. He was an awesome father in so many ways and I choose to remember him for all of the things he taught me, and gave to me. The anniversary of his death has recently passed, but I choose not to mourn his death, I celebrate the things that only he could have shown me. I do miss him. He fought his battle with alcohol successfully for many years off and on. It was a constant battle for him which he fought and won, and again lost during many periods of his life.

If you are an alcoholic my message to you is that there is help out there for you, and there are many people who understand what you are going through. You are not alone in your suffering, whether you are quietly suffering as a mother, father, sister, brother, or child, you don’t have to suffer alone. If you have lost everything but still have your life, you can still turn everything around. Never give up hope.


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    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @ rajan jolly Thank you for the comment and the positive feedback. Acholism is a very difficult to face, it affects everyone involved including the alcholic. I am glad there are programs available for people to receive help from.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very well written hub. I've seen some close friends suffer from alcoholism so I can relate to the signs and withdrawal symptoms you mention here. It is imperative we give those who wish to get themselves cured of this disease, all the help and AA does this in a big way.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome. Sharing.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @tammyswallow I appreciate your comments, alcoholism is a struggle for everyone involved, one thing I do know is that there is hope for everyone. I have another family member that continuously struggles it is a difficult disease. I have a lot of compassion for people who are held by addiction, God knows I have my own struggles. I think growing up in households like we did can actually give us clarity on some of these issues and many other types of life's struggles.

      I will tell you this, my father was a loving man who spent many hours being the best father he could. I was actually very fortunate to have him in his sober and semi sober times if that makes sense! I have many fond memories of my father and some nightmare memories too, I try to focus on the good times for sure.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @Peanutritious Thank you for sharing your personal story, many people have challenges and victories when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. I have a family member who struggles with addiction daily and I tell him to take is victories a day, an hour, or a minute at a time and not to beat himself up too bad. Take care and if you know Bill W. go and see him when you are feeling low. You are still here and that is definitely a plus :) I miss my father so much and watched him struggle with this too, if he was here I would tell him he still had life, this gives hope

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Thanks for this. A thorough description of alcoholism and the devestating effects it can have. I've been suffering from alcoholism for years and stopped drinking for two. Unfortunately I drank again but had my last drink on 6th July and I'm determined that it won't happen again. I've lost everything because of my drinking but the insanity is the little voice telling you it will be different this time.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I am so sorry you had to go through that Kimberly Lake. I was raised by two non-functioning alcoholics so I can relate. You can never force a person to get help if they don't think they need it. This is a great hub with a message that really hits home. I hope it will help someone avoid what you had to go through. :(

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      It's very evident, Kimberly, from this well-written and exhaustive treatise on alcoholism that you have spent much time in researching the subject. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @billybuc Thanks for your continued support and interest in my articles. You input is very important to me!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A great look at a disease I am very familiar with.


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