Understanding Alcoholism click to listen
Understanding the nature of alcoholism and how someone develops a dependence upon alcohol can take a lifetime. In AA meetings, we hear that it is a disease that is cunning, baffling and powerful. My experience with this illness is that it can be uncontrollable and has no respect for anyone. It can be maddening, frustrating, and gut-wrenching to deal with the person battling with this type of addiction.
While you may feel very alone in trying to understand and cope with an addict, you are definitely not alone. Families, friends and co-workers are all touched in negative ways by the ripple effect of alcoholism.
When someone is suffering from being addicted to alcohol, they are at risk of losing their life, taking someone else’s life, destroying relationships and damaging others for a lifetime. The side effects of being dependent upon this drug extend far beyond the harm to the physical body.
Most people who have developed a dependence upon alcohol started their journey through the recreational use of the substance. As they continued to drink more, their tolerance levels changed and required more to reach a level of satisfaction. There are several phases that occur in-between drinking for fun and being miserably addicted.
There are three main things at work when alcoholism is present in someone’s life. There is the physical dependence, the psychological or thinking-disorder that is fueling the desire for more and there are genetic influences present as well.
Understanding the Genetic Connection
Research has revealed that alcohol addiction runs in the bloodline of families. A genetics study during the year of nineteen seventy-four (1974) determined that adopted children whose natural parents were alcoholics were at risk of becoming dependent upon the substance, even when being raised in a non-drinking environment. The study determined that if one natural parent is an alcoholic, a child is at three times greater risk of becoming alcohol-dependent. If both biological parents are alcoholics, the risk is increased to five times that. This study, completed by Goodwin, compared adopted children who were conceived by non-alcoholic parents to adopted children conceived from alcohol-addicted parents.
Understanding the Physical Dependence
The evidence that people go through physical withdrawals supports the fact that the body becomes physically dependent upon alcohol. The following was found in an Ebook provided by the transformationstreatment.com website.
“Alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous and potentially fatal if done without medical supervision. If an alcoholic who has been drinking regularly, and particularly if his use is quite heavy, suddenly stops, he is at high risk for a variety of dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Delirium tremens (often called “DTs”) are a medical emergency and include the following symptoms: grand mal seizures, sweating, rapid heart beat, agitation, insomnia, nausea and/or vomiting, hallucinations, delusions, panic attacks, anxiety, tremors or shakes, high temperature, confusion and nightmares. Alcohol withdrawal is also very unpleasant and is one of the reasons alcohol -addiction is especially hard to overcome. Much of a heavy alcoholic’s drinking is to ward off withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, thus creating a vicious cycle.”
Understanding the Psychological Side of Alcoholism
People in recovery meetings testify all of the time about how ALL they could think about was when and where the next drink would come from. For someone who has never struggled with an addiction, it can be both frustrating and baffling to try to understand why an alcoholic or addict does the things s/he does. The reality for someone who suffers from alcohol-dependence is that from the time they awaken until they fall asleep- their mind subconsciously is telling them they need a drink.
One of the best ways to get a better understanding of what chronic problem-drinkers are dealing with is by attending a few AA meetings. You will be better able to understand some of the various stages that people go through when faced with a drinking probelm.
As you can clearly see, the person suffering from alcoholism is caught in a vicious cycle. One of the most heartbreaking things you can experience is watching a loved one’s life slowly become ruined due to the devastating effects of alcoholism. Dependence upon this substance is not easily overcome yet people get sober every day. With this in mind, never give up hope that things will change for the better.
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