What is Alcohol and Alcoholism?

December 14th, 2011


Alcohol has been consumed by humans since prehistoric times for a variety of reasons.  It has been associated with medicinal, religious, and recreational use in many societies through history.  Consuming a large dose of alcohol causes intoxication.  As the effect of the alcohol wears off the person may experience a hangover.  The symptoms of a hangover include unpleasant headaches and feeling ill.
Alcohol impairs the ability of the drinker to make rational decisions.  It also lowers the drinkers social inhibitions.  These effects can lead to the person displaying dangerous, irrational, and socially inappropriate behaviour.
Alcoholism is the state of being addicted to alcohol.  Addiction of any sort is marked by two physical symptoms and a number of behavioural markers.  You don’t have to display all of the symptoms to be considered alcoholic.
The two physical symptoms are tolerance and the presence of withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking.  Tolerance means that you need to drink more alcohol in order to feel the effects (or get drunk).  Withdrawal symptoms are physical problems that arise if you stop drinking abruptly.  Examples of withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol include shakes, seizures, hallucinations, insomnia, and even death.  It is very important to have a medically supervised alcohol detox to manage these symptoms properly.
Other symptoms of alcoholism focus on the behaviour of the drinker.  Does the person drink alcohol to the point where they renege on their daily responsibilities or stop engaging in normal social activities?  If so they may meet some of the other alcohol addiction diagnostic criteria.
If you want to find out more about alcoholism because you’re worried about your drinking or that of a loved one please contact our addiction experts right now.  Our intake coordinators will guide you to the very best alcohol treatment centers available.
What patterns of problem drinking are there?
Without meaning to over simplify the wide range of experiences with alcohol there are two main patterns that have been identified. 
The first, sometimes nicknamed the “American” pattern, is associated with periods of abstinence followed by episodes of heavy binge drinking.  These episodes are relatively short in duration and the alcoholic may be able to maintain a fairly high level of functioning in the periods of abstinence between them.
The second is sometimes known as the “French” pattern and is associated with the alcoholic maintaining a constant level of inebriation by constantly taking alcohol to remain intoxicated.
If your alcohol habit is causing problems in your life please don’t delay in contacting our expert alcohol addiction counselors right now.  They will help you understand the nature of alcohol problems and help you find viable treatment options.
What happens with alcohol abuse in the long-term?
Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to severe health problems.  Moderate alcohol consumption is sometimes promoted as being beneficial to health, but there are a great many questions mark around this.  Firstly it’s not clear to what extent the alcohol industry has funded the researchers making that claim.  Secondly there are alternative ways to accomplish the same result, that don’t have the risks that alcohol has – such as liver damage, fetal alcohol syndrome, violence, and accidents.
People who abuse alcohol are at a much higher risk of developing full blown alcoholism, heart problems, pancreatitis, liver disease, and cancer. 
Damage to the central and peripheral nervous system is another possible consequence – the shuffling gait and clumsy appearance of long standing alcoholics is well known to addiction treatment consultants.
Damage to the brain can result in a wide range of problems – memory loss, psychosis, depression, and dementia.
Alcohol is a toxin and so can damage just about any part of the body.
Are you waking up and needing a drink just to get the day started?  Contact our treatment professionals right now for help getting the best rehab available to you.

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