Can you recognize the characteristics of alcoholism?

  • Alcohol is linked to all other aspects of a life.
  • An overwhelming, repetitive urge to get high on alcohol.
  • Drinking has become a life’s No. 1 priority.
  • Regardless of risk the alcohol urge overcomes all will power.

Families and friends of alcoholics can’t understand why an alcoholic can’t, “just stop drinking.” Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows the activity of the brain and spinal cord. Alcoholism is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled use of, and addiction to, alcohol. The alcoholic can’t stop drinking because he or she depends on alcohol to function.

What causes alcoholism?

Experts believe that generic factors make certain people more vulnerable to alcoholism. Cultural, environmental and psychological factors can also contribute to the development of the disease.

Approximately seven out of ten adults drink alcohol, and about one in ten of these is an alcoholic. One-third of all preventable deaths in the U.S. are related to the use of this drug. About one-half of all highway deaths are alcohol-related.

What can an alcoholic do?

Although alcoholism cannot be cured, alcoholics can recover and can return to a normal life. Recovery depends on total abstinence from alcohol. Alcoholics must accept the truth that alcohol has become a serious problem and that they are unable to control drinking. They must want to stop drinking forever.

Treatment for alcoholism is available in many forms depending on individual needs. Most common are detoxification followed by inpatient-residential, and outpatient treatment. Effective treatment should include individual, group and family counseling. Twelve-step group involvement and education about alcoholism are necessary to address the person’s physical, mental and emotional needs, all of which are affected by addiction.