What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a term used to define alcohol addiction or dependence. It is characterized by the compulsive and self-destructive use of alcohol. Patients who suffer from alcoholism are incapable of controlling their consumption of alcohol. Due their strong affinity to drink, many other aspects of their lives will suffer.

Alcoholism was labelled a disease by the American Psychiatric Association and is the third most common mental illness in the US. It is an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind. It cannot be punished away. It lies deep within the mind of the alcoholic and will most often require some intervention and alcohol addiction treatment will be required. Punishment and tough love are rarely ever enough.

Alcohol addiction ruins relationships, destroys careers, separates families and deteriorates people’s mental and physical health. No matter how badly an alcoholic may want to quit, their own will-power alone is rarely enough to make them quit for good.

Whether an alcoholic is celebrating their greatest victory or dealing with insurmountable heartbreak or regret, they will feel the urge to drink. The old stereotype of the man drinking out of the paper bag underneath a bridge is old and outdated. Alcoholism does not discriminate and spans across all demographics.

While drinking is a normally acceptable part of our culture, there are millions of Americans who struggle with alcoholism every day and do not seek help for their condition. Prolonged alcohol abuse carries a long list of physical and mental side effects that can ruin someone’s life, if they go untreated.

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What is the Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

Both do involve the excessive drinking, but there is sometimes a fine line between the two. Many people have gone through bouts of heavy drinking, but the vast majority of them will make some improvements if needed. They may find themselves engaging in some risky and maladaptive behavior due to their drinking, but they often make right and take care of their daily obligations and refraining from drinking too much or even stop altogether if necessary.

Simply put, an alcoholic is someone who is incapable of controlling their consumption of alcohol. They will more often than not overshoot the mark. For them, one drink is too many and a thousand is never enough. It is a progressive disease and takes over some quicker than others. If left untreated, things will only get worse, never better.

There are some people who go through bouts of hard drinking but do not fall into this category. Sometimes people will go through some hard times in their lives, where they will turn to the bottle to cope with their feelings and some may even turn around from this. The true alcoholic suffers from a disease that prevents them controlling their consumption and they will continue to drink heavily no matter the cost.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Evidently not everyone who abuses alcohol classifies as an alcoholic, but if the behaviors listed below become frequent, then they can be dangerous towards the user’s mental and physical health. Many alcoholics don’t start this way, their condition may progress over time and it’s always best for them to seek treatment before things get any worse. For alcoholics, drinking is a central part of their life and most times, will carry into other aspects of their daily life. Some signs of alcohol addiction include:

Signs of Addiction

Frequent black-outs
Being consistently incoherent
Inability to control their alcohol consumption once they start drinking
Frequently drinking and driving
Loss of attention towards professional and personal responsibilities
Erratic and/or more violent behavior
Isolating from friends and family to hide their drinking
Consistently frequent hangovers
Severe uneasiness if refraining from alcohol

Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term and consistent alcohol abuse will put the user at risk of some serious medical consequences if they are left untreated. Side effects from alcohol withdrawal can be potentially life-threatening if medical attention is not sought out immediately. Stopping abruptly without medical attention is not recommended. Some common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

Withdrawal Symptoms

Profuse sweating
Extreme anxiety or agitation
Nausea and vomiting
Tremors and convulsions
Audio and visual hallucinations
The staff at Morningside provided a safe and unique environment where healing could take place. I had never felt special or had self-worth and the staff gave me the love, patience, and care I needed until I could find it for myself. My life today is one I dreamed of. I am an active participant! [sic] I am free! I have had a personality change through taking action and working hard that has enabled me to practice and learn faith, love, tolerance, self-worth, and integrity!

Morningside Client, 2014

What are some long-term effects of alcohol addiction?

The Addiction to alcohol will wreak havoc on a person’s mental, physical and emotional health. Some of these issues may be irreversible and include:

Long-Term Effects

High blood pressure
Sexual problems
Liver disease (cirrhosis, cancer or alcoholic hepatitis)
Heart disease (hypertension, heart attacks)
Digestive problems (gastritis or pancreatitis)
Cancer (digestive tract, stomach, breast or liver)
Brain disorders (dementia, stroke)

Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Mental Health

Addiction to alcohol causes many mental health problems, if it goes untreated. Alcohol abuse has been linked with a wide range of mental health problems including anxiety disorders, depression and personality disorders. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 65 percent of suicides are linked to excessive drinking and in 70 percent of men who commit suicide, consume alcohol before they commit the act.

Drinking is an acceptable part of our culture and this poses a major problem for alcoholics to admit they have a problem and is often used as a justification. They may say “but everybody drinks” or “well how I have fun then”. The truth is drinking probably stopped being fun for them long ago and they refuse to admit there is a problem.

How Do I Get Help?

Seeking help is often a hard pill to swallow, but it’s important you know this is hope. Alcohol addiction kills many Americans every day and sadly, many of them never sought out the help they deserved. Alcohol addiction treatment is often needed to intervene the self-destructive behaviors associated with alcoholism and Morningside Recovery is here to help.

Morningside is among the leading alcohol addiction treatment providers in the country and offers a variety of services to patients dealing with alcohol addiction and mental health disorders. We offer traditional 12-step and other alternative forms of . If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to alcohol and need help, please don’t hesitate to call. The road to recovery is sometimes just a phone call away. You may reach us anytime at . Our treatment specialists are happy to assist you and help you find the right treatment option for you.