Alcoholism is a Disease
In the U. S alone over 15 million people are currently affected by alcoholism. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence) or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Alcoholism is a chemical disease because it breaks down differently in the stomach and has an entirely different effect on the brain of the alcoholic than on the non-alcoholic.
The main organ involved with alcoholism is the brain. Alcohol interferes with the electrical charges of nerve cells that send messages to the brain about thoughts, feelings and learning. After chronic exposure to alcohol neurotransmitters are altered permanently and can also lead to brain shrinkage. Advanced states of alcoholism cause states of dementia psychosis and when their tolerance increases, alcoholics show signs of disorientation, paranoia and aggressiveness.
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Heavy alcohol intake reduces some of the brain’s chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals give us the feeling of well-being and pleasure.
At the same time alcohol releases chemicals that cause stress and depression. It is this chemical imbalance in the brain that may be responsible for alcoholism. Alcoholism is also progressive, which means it gets worse over time. Alcoholism causes biological, psychological, social and spiritual problems and as the disease progresses, the alcoholics ability to function daily declines. Personality changes are a result from neuropsychological impairments to the person’s cognitive and affective functioning; they think, feel and behave differently than previously, but believe their functioning normally.
Social or relationship problems arise within the family, the community and at work. Family life deteriorates to the point that treatment for family members is necessary for their own recovery. Another reason why alcoholism is a disease is because of genetics and environmental influences. It is estimated that 40-60% of the risk for developing any addiction, including alcoholism, is genetic. Studies with adoptees have shown that having a familial history of alcoholism increases the risk of developing an alcohol dependency.
According to one study, having a familial history of alcoholism but being raised in a household without alcohol abusers still leads to a fivefold increase in the odds of becoming an alcoholic. However, environmental factors are still important – the same study found a larger increase in the odds of becoming an alcoholic given both a family history of alcoholism and a pro- alcoholic environment. A person’s surroundings can play a strong role on the road to potential alcohol abuse and alcoholism. An environment that promotes drinking can make it difficult for many people to avoid the temptations of drinking to excess.
Opposing viewpoints argue that alcoholism is not a disease. One of the most common arguments against the disease of alcoholism is that the disease model is only useful for treating people who consider themselves alcoholics. Another claim is that excessive drinking can cause physical disease and involve physical dependence without therefore being a disease itself. It is also believed by skeptics that to be diagnosed with alcoholism means a person has to give up their identity as a “normal” person and take on the identity of someone with a disease.
While all of these claims are understandable, there are faults within the claims that leaves “alcoholism is not a disease” an unsupported allegation. Alcoholism is described as a physical compulsion along with a mental obsession, which falls into the category of addiction. Addiction has been proven to be a brain disease, as mentioned earlier in this article the brain is the organ that goes hand in hand with alcoholism. The brain is what makes one crave an alcoholic beverage, it’s what causes one to have extreme withdrawal effects when the desire for alcohol is unmet.
Alcoholism is an addiction, and addiction is a brain disease. Also, the belief that the alcoholics complex turns from a “normal” identity to a “diseased” identity is illogical. Diabetes is a disease, Aids is a disease and those who carry those diseases don’t let it define them or their lives. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence) or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
If alcoholism continues to be overlooked as a disease, we will continue to have over 80,000 deaths a year in the U. S from the excessive alcohol use. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, don’t let them remain untreated. There are several ways of curing this disease such as therapy, counseling and medications. Alcoholism is a disease and should/can be treated as such. Work Cited