.. igestive enzymes, which can irritate the stomach wall, producing heartburn, nausea, gastritis, and ulcers. The stomach of a chronic drinker loses the ability to adequately move food and expel it into the duodenum, leaving some food always in the stomach, causing sluggish digestion and vomiting. Alcohol may also inflame the small and large intestine (Overview 4). Moderate daily drinking may be good for the heart, but for many the risks outweigh the benefits.
Even one binge may produce irregular heartbeats, and an alcohol abuser experience increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart arrhythmia, and heart disease. Alcohol may cause cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle) (Overview 4). Quitting drinking aids in recovery from this condition. Growing evidence supports the theory, that alcoholism is a hereditary disease. Alcoholism, as appeased to merely excessive or irresponsible drinking, has been variously thought of as a symptom of psychological or social stress or as poor coping behavior. More recently, and probably more accurately, it has come to be viewed as a complex disease entity in its own right (LeClair 1). With the acceptance of alcoholism as a disease, we have been able to develop new treatments, an understanding, and a way to recover.
A vast majority of this research has focused on mutations in the enzymes that metabolize (The sum of the processes of life support and especially the processes by which a substance is assimilated or eliminated by the body) alcohol and may effect the bodys ability to excrete this toxin (Overview 1). Evidence shows there may be genetic factors that help determine whether a person will become and alcoholic. A child of an alcoholic has four times the risk of becoming an alcoholic compared with a child of nonalcoholic parents (Overview 6). There are two types of genetic alcoholics: 1) Male-limited susceptibility: Found mostly in males, this condition is passed on frequently and occurs at an early age. This type is associated with most criminal cases and often requires extensive therapy.
2) Milieu (environmental)-limited susceptibility: More common, this condition is found in both males and females. Although inherited, this type of alcoholism must be stimulated by environmental factors (Overview 1). Alcoholism usually develops over a period of years. Early and subtle symptoms include placing excessive importance on the availability of alcohol. Ensuring this availability strongly influences the persons choice of associates or activities. Alcohol becomes a staple in the abusers daily life.
Initially, the alcoholic may demonstrate a high tolerance to alcohol, consuming more and showing less adverse effects than others may. Subsequently, however, the person begins to drink against his or her own best interests, as alcohol becomes more important than personal relationships, work, reputation, or even physical health. The person commonly loses control over drinking and is increasingly unable to predict how much alcohol will be consumed on a given occasion or, if the person currently abstaining, when the drinking will resume again. Physical addiction to the drug may occur, sometimes eventually leading to drinking around the clock to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In some cases the “diagnosis” of alcoholism is made by the courts, when a judge issues a drunk driving sentence that requires the offender to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or enter a rehabilitation program.
As the public becomes more aware of the nature of alcoholism, the social attractiveness attached to it decreases, alcoholics and their families tend to conceal it less, and diagnosis is not delayed long. Alcoholism has a good recovery rate once the alcoholic stops drinking. Treatment is provided in many different forms because there are many kinds of alcoholics. Treatment sources include hospitals, alcoholism units within hospitals, private clinics designed specifically for the care of alcoholics, residential alcoholic rehabilitation facilities, self-help groups such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and private practitioners such as alcoholism counselors, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and psychiatrists. In addition to managing physical complications and withdrawal states, treatment involves individual counseling and group therapy techniques aimed at complete and comfortable abstinence from alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous, a support group commonly used for those undergoing treatment, in many cases helps alcoholics to recover without extensive formal treatment.
This organization of men and women help each other solve their common problem of alcoholism. They also offer to share their recovery experiences with others that have a drinking problem and want to do something about it. Such abstinence, according to the best current evidence, is the desired goal, despite some highly controversial suggestions that a safe return to social drinking is possible (LeClair 2). Despite these encouraging signs, estimates of the annual number of deaths related to excessive drinking exceed 97,000 in the United States alone. Economic costs related to alcoholism are at least 100 billion a year (LeClair 2).
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as an average of not more than two drinks per day, and estimates that fifteen million adults (fifteen percent of the drinkers in the United States) consume more than that amount. The fifteen percent of men and three percent of women who ingest more than four drinks a day risk a serious drinking problem. Most problem drinkers are not presently receiving formal treatment apart from what Alcoholics Anonymous offers. The available treatments are most effective for socially stable, middle-class alcoholics and least effective for the homeless without families. The need to provide increasing services of better quality to those with alcoholism is urgent.
The major burden of coping with this complex drug problem continues to fall on the individuals and families most directly affected. A further enlightened public policy on alcoholism addressing legal drinking ages, liquor labeling, laws governing drunk drivers, and public education is still necessary. Bibliography Bibliography 1. “Alcoholic Beverage, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Alcoholism.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1997ed.
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