WHAT IS ALCOHOLISM?
Alcoholism refers to dependence on alcohol or addiction to alcohol. An alcoholic complies with the following criteria:
- Pattern of alcohol use is abnormal and abusive
- Alcohol consumption leads to notable distress or impairment in the person’s daily functioning
- An increasing physical need (craving) for alcohol exists
- Unable to stop or cut down on alcohol consumption, even if the person has the desire to do so
- Social impairment (the person spends a lot of time obtaining alcohol, drinking or recovering from it, isolating himself, giving up other activities because of drinking and continuous drinking inspite of the physical and psychological consequences.
Alcoholism vs alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse leads to episodes of impairment in the person’s functioning and alcoholism has continuous impairment. These impairments include:
- Drinking causes the person to be unable to fulfill important obligations, e.g. going to work, paying bills
- Continuous drinking in situations in which it is dangerous, e.g. drinking and driving
- Recurring alcohol related legal problems, e.g. driving under the influence
- Continued drinking although it caused or contributed to social or interpersonal problems, e.g. continue to drink despite becoming aggressive
WHY IS ALCOHOLISM CONSIDERED A DISEASE?
Alcoholism can be considered a disease, as it is progressive, destructive and chronic. Regardless of negative consequences of persistent drinking the alcoholic still experiences a strong desire and often a physical need to drink. The course of alcoholism is predictable and entails symptoms such as the need for consumption and withdrawal symptoms when the need is ignored.
CAN ALCOHOLISM BE CURED?
Alcoholism cannot be cured in the same way tonsillitis can be cured. However, the condition of alcoholism can be managed and improved by abstaining from drinking and being in a positive, healthy environment as well as leading a healthy lifestyle. Alcoholism is treatable! With persistent therapy, aftercare and support the alcoholic can recover from alcoholism, but they would have to take long term precautions to ensure sobriety.
DOES TREATMENT WORK?
YES, YES AND YES! Treatment works! The alcoholic’s attitude, motivation, commitment and willingness towards sobriety, as well as their support system determine the success of treatment.
Treatment is a process and changes don’t happen over night. Sobriety can be compared to a new habit that the alcoholic and his family have to learn.