How Do You Define Alcoholism?

The American Medical Association defines alcoholism as a disease. It concludes that alcoholism is a chronic disease that has environmental, psychosocial, and genetic factors that all play a role in the development and manifestation of alcohol dependence. This comprehensive definition was published in 1992 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.To the layman, alcoholism refers to a disease that includes problems controlling the drinking of alcohol, having a preoccupation with alcohol, having to consume more and more amounts of alcohol to get the desired effects, and failing to discontinue drinking alcohol even though it may be causing problems in other areas of your life, such as work, school, or relationships. People who suffer from alcoholism may also have withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking, or even reduce the amount they were drinking.Oftentimes, people who have a problem with alcohol, are unable to stop drinking or even cut back without getting help. As with other types of addictions, denial of a drinking problem is frequently a sign of alcoholism.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Some individuals don’t know they have a problem with alcohol until it gets out of hand. The signs and symptoms of alcoholism vary from one person to the next. One person suffering from the disease may only experience one or two of the below symptoms, while another person may experience many.

  • Feeling a strong need for a drink.
  • Drinking alone.
  • Hiding drinking.
  • Not being able to limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Needing more alcohol to feel its effect because of developing a tolerance for it.
  • Encountering physical withdrawal symptoms, like shaking, sweating, and nausea, when you don’t drink.
  • Experiencing problems with relationships, finances, or employment.
  • Having legal problems or getting into trouble with the law.
  • Not remembering conversations when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Losing interest in friends, hobbies, or other activities that used to provide you with pleasure.


How Much Drinking is Too Much?

You are at increased risk for developing alcoholism if you can answer yes to one or more of the following questions:

  • If you are a male, do you drink 15 or more drinks per week or five or more drinks per day?
  • If you are a female, do you drink 12 or more drinks per week or four or more drinks per day?
  • Do you ever feel the need to have a drink in the morning?
  • Do you experience guilty thoughts about your drinking?
  • Have you ever blackouts during a drinking session?
  • Do you ever have thoughts that you should cut back on your drinking?
  • Do you make excuses to drink?
  • Do you become hostile or irritated when asked about your drinking?
  • Do you ever drink and drive?
For purposes of one drink, one standard drink refers to:
  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 5 ounces of a glass of wine
  • 1 ½ ounces of a shot of liquor (80-proof/40 percent alcohol) hard liquor
Alcoholism is known to have a genetic component; If you have a parent who has had alcoholism, you are more at risk for alcohol problems yourself.

Is it Time to Get Help?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, if you sometimes feel you drink too much, or you have friends, co-workers, or family who are concerned about your drinking, it is time to seek help. If you suspect you might be suffering from alcoholism, not only is it crucial for you to see your physician, but you can get help in other ways.

This may include seeking alcohol addiction therapy (either as an inpatient or outpatient program), joining an alcohol-abuse support group, or talking with a mental health provider. In addition, having a strong family and social support system can help to make it easier to stop drinking.
Sources http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=399449

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