Alcoholism Is a Widespread Problem
Alcohol, for many, can be a pleasant accompaniment to social activities. Moderate alcohol use—up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people—is not harmful for most.
Billions of people worldwide abuse alcohol or battle with alcoholism. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems, including regular binge and/or heavy drinking.
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What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that includes cravings, loss of control, tolerance and a physical dependence that doesn’t exist in the case of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism means an uncontrollable need to drink, and should not be left untreated.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse does not include the physical dependence on alcohol, but is a harmful pattern of drinking that can result in continued drinking despite being aware of its negative consequences. Even though alcohol abuse is different from alcoholism, many of its effects are similar to those experienced by alcoholics.
Alcohol abuse can still be life-threatening. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of cancer, liver cirrhosis, autoimmune diseases, brain damage and problems during pregnancy. Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of death or injury from automobile crashes and other accidents.
Alcohol abuse and addiction cost society over 200 billion dollars per year! And in human terms, the costs simply cannot be calculated.
If you’ve ever felt guilty about your drinking, you regu or loved ones have expressed their concerns about your drinking, an alcohol problem may exist. Whether it’s alcohol abuse or alcoholism, it’s extremely important you or a loved one visit with a professional, who will help determine whether you have a drinking problem and, if so, recommend the best course of action.
The Decision to Get Help
Sometimes, it’s hard to admit a problem and accept help - but the sooner help is sought, the better the chances for recovery. Disregard the common myths that alcoholism is anything but a disease. Taking steps to identify a potential worsening problem means the chance for a healthier and much more rewarding life.
The type of alcohol treatment you or your lovd one receives depends on the severity of the problem and the resources available in your community. Treatment may include detoxification, family therapy and individual counseling, the latter of which teaches patients to identify situations and feelings that trigger cravings and find new, healthier ways of coping.
Many treatment programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. AA describes itself as a “worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to stay sober.” Although AA is generally recognized as effective, not everyone responds to AA’s style or message, and other recovery approaches are available. Most find that AA works best in combination with other forms of treatment, such as counseling.