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Alcoholism is a disease in which drinkers have lost the ability to control their drinking, leading to physical and mental harm and loss of ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, pathological condition that affects the nervous and digestive system, caused by the inability to stop drinking despite adverse consequences such as loss of job, family, and health. The disease is potentially fatal, however the most disturbing and debilitating part of alcoholism is the loss of self-respect, the possible job loss, and the toll it takes on the alcoholics family. There is also indication that there may be a genetic component with alcoholism.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence defines alcoholism as characterized by “impaired control over dinking…and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.” This means that for many alcoholics, they are unable to make a decision to stop drinking without the help of others.
Symptoms of the disease include but are not limited to sneaking drinks, lying about the amount consumed, irritability when alcohol is not available, mood swings, loss of appetite, a puffiness of the face, job loss and a high number of traffic tickets.
Family members need to develop an awareness of the disease and talk with the alcoholic. Most alcoholics are in denial and talking to the person about their disease can be very difficult. Choose a time when the person is sober. In addition, talking to the person after an alcoholic problem as occurred, such as a family argument, or a drunken driving ticket, for example, may be a good time to talk. Unfortunately waiting for a problem to occur from alcoholic behaviors can have serious consequences.
Family members coping with an alcoholic or addict can cause a great deal of stress in the family life. Therefore, there are support groups for Al-Alteen for children and teenagers. Al-Anon is for the spouse or loved one that has to cope with an alcoholic. These groups teach family members on how to cope with the alcoholic and process their emotions.
There are studies that want you to believe that alcoholism is not a disease. They are wrong. Alcoholism is a disease and while there is no cure, it is treatable. If it were not a disease, insurance companies would not pay for treatment.