Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Medicenta, Medical Directory, Health Forum, Health Blog, Medical Store, Find a Hospital, Clinics, Pharmacy, Medical Consultant - Alcoholism: A chronic disease or a phase in life?

While Alcoholism cannot be cured yet, there are various treatment options that can help an alcoholic avoid drinking and regain a healthy life. People tend to equate any kind of excessive drinking with alcoholism. But doctors and scientists recognize that disorders related to alcohol use lie along a continuum of severity. They prefer to use the term alcohol dependence instead of alcoholism to designate the most severe of the alcohol-use disorders. The terms alcohol abuse andproblem drinking designate less severe disorders resulting from immoderate drinking. Alcohol dependence develops differently in each individual. But certain symptoms characterize the illness. Alcoholism chronic disease.

Craving: Alcoholics develop a craving, or a strong urge, to drink despite awareness that drinking is creating problems in their lives. They suffer from impaired control, an inability to stop drinking once they have begun.

Dependence: Alcoholics also become physically dependent on alcohol. When they stop drinking after a period of heavy alcohol use, they suffer unpleasant physical ailments, known as withdrawal symptoms that include nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that other behaviors common in people who are alcohol dependent include seeking out opportunities to drink alcoholic beverages&mdash,often to the exclusion of other activities&mdash,and rapidly returning to established drinking patterns following periods of abstinence.

Tolerance: Alcoholics develop a greater tolerance for alcohol&mdash,that is, they need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to reach intoxication.

Research has further proven that men are three times more likely than women to become alcoholics, while people aged 65 and older have the lowest rates of alcohol dependence. Scientists do not know precisely what causes alcoholism, but most experts suspect that a combination of factors are involved, which may explain why some people who drink become alcohol dependent while most do not.

Physiological Causes: Scientists have explored the chemical action of alcohol among both normal individuals and individuals who suffer from alcohol-use disorders, particularly alcohol dependence. Some studies suggest that some people may have a physical trait that enables them to drink large quantities of alcohol before feeling its intoxicating effects. These people have an enhanced tolerance for alcohol. Scientists are unsure if this trait causes excessive drinking or develops as the result of such drinking.

Studies show that alcoholism runs in families&mdash,alcoholics are six times more likely than nonalcoholics to have blood relatives who are alcohol dependent.

Chronic alcoholic liver disease ppt

Environmental Causes: Environmental factors that may affect the development of the disease include personal behavioral skills, peer influences early in life, parental behavior, societal and cultural attitudes toward alcohol use, life stress, and availability of alcoholic beverages. Once a person has established a drinking pattern, environmental factors combined with physical changes induced by heavy drinking may reinforce the continued use of alcohol.

Psychological Influences: Many experts believe that a loss of control over drinking is as much psychological as it is physiological. Studies show that alcohol-dependent individuals will drink excessive amounts of a nonalcoholic beverage if they believe it contains alcohol. Moreover, when they are given an alcoholic beverage that they believe is alcohol-free, their drinking behavior is similar to that of persons not dependent on alcohol. Many drinkers develop a psychological condition known as denial, in which they are unable to acknowledge that alcohol use lies at the root of many of their problems.

While some studies have found that moderate use of alcohol has beneficial health effects, including protection from coronary heart disease, heavy and prolonged intake of alcohol can seriously disrupt body chemistry. Heavy drinkers lose their appetite and tend to obtain calories from alcohol rather than from ordinary foods. Alcohol is rich in calories and can provide substantial amounts of energy. However, if it constitutes the primary source of calories in place of food, the body will lack vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

Prolonged use of large amounts of alcohol may cause serious liver damage.

Heavy drinking also damages heart muscle. Nearly half of all cases of cardiomyopathy are caused by alcohol abuse.

Alcoholics tend to have high blood levels of the hormone epinephrine and deficiencies of the mineral magnesium. This combination produces severe arrhythmias, or heartbeat irregularities, a common cause of sudden death in heavy drinkers. Chronic drinkers typically develop hypertension, a leading cause of stroke.

Chronic disease of alcoholism

In some cases, alcohol withdrawal may lead to delirium tremens (DTs), which produces increasing confusion, sleeplessness, depression, and terrifying hallucinations. As this delirium progresses, the hands develop a persistent and uncontrollable shaking that may extend to the head and body.

Women who drink excessive amounts of alcohol while pregnant run a high risk of having a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the leading known cause of birth defects. FAS results in a combination of mental and physical defects, such as retardation, a small head, and poor muscle tone.

The best methods to treat alcohol dependency vary, depending upon an individual&rsquo,s medical and personal needs. Some heavy drinkers who recognize their problem appear to recover on their own. Others recover through participation in the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous or other self-help groups. Some alcoholics require long-term individual or group therapy, which may include hospitalization.

Detoxification : For some alcoholics, treatment begins with detoxification, which safely rids the patient&rsquo,s body of alcohol while treating any physical complications that develop from severe withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens. Detoxification normally requires less than a week, during which time patients usually stay in a specialized residential treatment facility or a separate unit within a general or psychiatric hospital. These facilities also offer extended treatment programs to help alcoholics in their recovery effort.

Counseling: Recovery also may involve individual counseling and group therapy to help a person who is alcohol dependent adapt to a new way of life, one that is not driven by alcohol.

Medication: Physicians may prescribe medications to help prevent alcoholics from returning to drinking once they have stopped. The drug disulfiram (sold under the trade name Antabuse), interferes with the way the body processes alcohol. Taken in pill form daily, this medication generally has no noticeable effects until a person drinks alcohol. The alcohol and drug interact to produce an extremely unpleasant reaction, including nausea, dizziness, headache, heart palpitations, and other problems. Alcoholics then associate illness with drinking and, in many cases, avoid alcohol use.

Alcoholism/addiction as a chronic disease from rhetoric to clinical reality

A concerted effort by many public health organizations may in time enable society to readily identify early signs of problem drinking and encourage people to accept early intervention before the condition worsens. As the public becomes more aware of the health and social consequences of the disease, the incidence of alcohol dependence may decrease, and earlier and better treatments may lead to higher recovery rates

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