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Most people can consume one or two drinks on occasion in social setting and leave at that. Others use alcohol to the extent that it causes physical, emotional and social harm. Alcoholism is using alcohol to the point where one is physically dependent to it, and the need to drink is not only fueled by the desire to become drunk but just to feel physically and psychologically normal. This differs from alcohol abuse and binge drinking every now and then, because individuals who are involved in alcoholism are to the point where they have to continuously administer alcohol and will require medical assistance and professional substance abuse treatment to be able to stop.

Alcoholism- Physical Dependence

Much like any other drug of abuse such as heroin or crack, the physical dependence that develops over time to alcohol is what prompts the individual to continuously consume it. This is in an effort to avoid sometimes serious and unwanted symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. So it isn't just a typical hangover after a binge drinking episode, individuals with alcoholism on a daily basis will experience shakiness, sweating, anxiety, nausea and other symptoms until they drink more. With alcoholism, every day of one's life is a feeble attempt of trying to avoid these symptoms and just make it through the day.

Alcoholism and Denial

Alcoholism isn't always evident right away and many individuals remain in denial about it for a long time, most often until serious consequences are evident. Someone can begin self-medicating with alcohol and become accustomed to doing so, so the drinking can become more and more frequent. Tolerance soon develops, and the individual will need to consume more alcohol more frequently to even feel the effects of alcohol. Sooner or later, they are drinking all day and night, possibly cracking open a beer instead of having a cup of coffee the minute they wake up in the morning. This is not normal, despite how society perceives and allows alcohol to be treated as something other than a drug. It is a drug, and does just as much damage to an individual as any type of drug abuse.

Effects of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a deadly condition, and if individuals don't get help they are putting their lives at risk. Alcoholism is known to predispose individuals to many illnesses including several types of cancer including liver, esophageal, throat and larynx cancer, as well as liver cirrhosis and harm to other major organs in the body. There are also studies which have proven that alcoholism can result in brain damage which may affect motor function, effects which for some are irreversible. Alcoholism also results in deaths due to in drinking and driving, and there are thousands of examples of this each year with deaths of both the drunken motorists and their innocent and sober victims.

While it can be difficult to understand why someone would want to be caught up in alcoholism, loved ones must understand that it is a complex issue which often takes much more than willpower to overcome. Individuals with alcoholism have intense cravings every day of their life and an actual physical need to consume more alcohol. Alcoholism puts alcohol consumption as a priority in one's life, before any desire or urge to eat, sleep or do just about anything else. Without effective treatment, controlling these urges just isn't possible for most.

Alcoholism Recovery

There is effective treatment however which can not only identify and address alcoholism, but fully resolve and cure it. Many drug rehab programs exist which don't operate off of the standard idea that alcoholism is a disease, and have proven otherwise time and time again with treatment clients who have become abstinent and remained that way long-term. Thanks to recent studies, it is now more likely that individuals are predisposed to alcoholism because of purely environmental factors, not because of some genetic predisposition or disease. With this in mind, treatment programs exist which treat alcoholism by resolving these environmental factors and hence effectively treating the condition. Once an individual has resolved these issues, their alcoholism can be resolved and they can move on with their lives without ever turning to alcohol again as a solution to a problem or to self medicate.

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