What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a highly complex and difficult condition, leaving many people feeling alone and lost. Facing up to the idea that you may have a drinking problem can be one of the most difficult aspects of recovery, but it is also the vital first step of the journey. To recover from alcohol addiction, you need to surround yourself with loving, positive people and seek professional help. Therapy, peer support and structure are the cornerstones of addiction treatment, and with the right support, you can get better. The severity of a person’s substance use disorder will determine whether they require inpatient, intensive outpatient treatment or general outpatient addiction services

Alcoholism is a compulsive disorder in which the sufferer finds it impossible to resist the temptation of consuming alcohol. You have probably tried to stop and failed or told friends and family that you want to get better but can’t. That is the nature of addiction. Learning more about the condition can give you the best idea about how to proceed to give yourself the best chance of regaining control over your life.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse and need help now call (888) 342-3881 or visit our admissions page to learn more about how to get started at our New Jersey drug and alcohol rehab..

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Drinking is an acceptable pastime in society, so it can be difficult to know where the line between healthy and unhealthy alcohol consumption is drawn. Addiction is characterized by a lack of control and the continued pursuit of getting drunk in spite of negative consequences.

According to the DSM 5, 11 criteria indicate an alcohol use disorder. Two to three indicates a mild disorder, four or five is moderate and identifying with six or more demonstrates a chronic disorder, also known as alcoholism. The criteria are as follows: 

  1. Finding that you regularly drink more than you intended or continue drinking for longer than you meant to.
  2. You’ve tried and failed to stop or cut down your consumption.
  3. Spending a significant portion of your time drinking alcohol or recovering from its effects.
  4. Persistently craving a drink and its effects.
  5. Excessive alcohol consumption in spite of problems at home, school or work.
  6. Friends and family are negatively affected by your continued drinking.
  7. Missing out on commitments or no longer partaking in activities you used to enjoy because of alcohol.
  8. Drinking even though it puts you in positions of danger.
  9. Knowing that you’re making a mental health condition worse by heavy alcohol use.
  10. Building a tolerance to alcohol whereby you need to consume more to get the same effects.
  11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink or drinking to avoid them.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This means it causes vital functions within your body to shut down; the more you drink, the more pronounced its effects are. When you consume alcohol in excess regularly, your body starts to adapt to its presence in your body. Due to the fact it emulates naturally occurring chemicals in your brain, you begin to rely on alcohol to relax, fall asleep and prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be severe enough to require medical detox services within a treatment program.

Some of the immediate effects alcohol has include:

  • Blackouts
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Obnoxious behavior
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Headaches
  • Distorted perception
  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Unconsciousness
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Coma

Does Drinking Excessively Cause Long-Term Health Issues?

Yes. Consuming alcohol to excess is dangerous and can cause serious short- and long-term repercussions. Without the help of professionals, overcoming this disease is difficult and potentially hazardous. The safest way to overcome this condition is in an alcohol and substance abuse treatment center with doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff on hand to guide you through the recovery process. If you continue to drink, you put yourself at risk of the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Infertility
  • Impotence
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Vitamin B deficiency
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Malnutrition
  • Mouth, throat, breast and esophagus cancer

What Causes Alcoholism?

Alcohol use disorder occurs as the result of a complex mixture of genetic, environmental and behavioral reasons. The most prevalent cause of alcohol addiction is exposure to addictive substances such as cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol at a young age. Having genes that predispose someone to be impulsive and sensation-seeking, ease of access to alcohol and having close family members who are addicts are also pertinent contributing factors to developing this condition.

That said, not everyone who possesses these traits or goes through these experiences will go on to develop an addiction to alcohol. Each person has unique reasons that lead them to become an alcoholic, but every person can be helped. Alcoholism can be defeated with the right mixture of therapy, support and determination.

If you’re ready to explore the alcohol treatment services available to you or just need to speak to a specialist about what you’ve been going through, call Recovery at the Crossroads at 888-342-3881. Our rehabilitation center in Blackwood, New Jersey has successfully helped hundreds of men and women into a clean and sober life of recovery.