Alcoholism is an addictive disease, which results in the continued ingestion of alcoholic beverages of any type despite the negative consequences of the behavior. With alcoholism, the person affected is consumed by a preoccupation with the drink and a failure to recognize the negative social and physical effects of the illness.
The person commonly refereed to as an alcoholic becomes dependent upon the alcohol. The body begins to crave and need the substance. After long-term usage the body will exhibit symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol levels in the body start to fall. Thus, a person who is addicted must battle the emotional and the physical upheaval associated with quitting.
The amount of alcohol consumed for a person to become an alcoholic varies with each individual. Some people are addicted from the first few drinks while others can consume alcohol on a regular basis before becoming addicted.
There is no definite predictor of the development of alcoholism. Some studies suggest that it may run in families or that there is a genetic component. Other factors for alcoholism include the stress levels, individual emotional health and the social environment of the individual.
The term alcohol abuse means many different things to different people. There is no set medical definition. Within religion, abuse often is used to refer to any consumption of a substance that is perceived with negativity by the religious community.
Remission refers to the situation where an alcoholic no longer exhibits the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. This means that the alcoholic is less preoccupied with the thought of alcohol and no longer consumes the substance.
Even with the term remission there are different meanings associated with the usage. One term is early remission. This is the term given when an alcoholic shows early signs of being able to overcome the addiction. There is also a late remission where an alcoholic shows signs of stopping the addiction although his or her body is already racked with symptoms of the disease.
There are a number of physical health factors that are adversely affected by alcoholism. The physical effects may include pancreatitis, seizure disorders, neuropathy, sexual dysfunction, cirrhosis, heart disease and more. There is also some evidence that points to an increased risk of cancer development and there are usually nutritional deficiencies.
Alcoholics also suffer from an increased risk of death as compared to the general population. This is for a variety of reasons.
Emotionally the disease also exacts a high price. Alcoholism causes or factors into a full host of mental health issues. It is as toxic to brain function as it is to the rest of the body. Psychiatric disorders go hand in hand with the diagnosis of alcoholism. The most common are anxiety and depression a well as panic disorder.
When an alcoholic attempts to withdraw these emotional symptoms may worsen. In some people, the alcohol served to mitigate the symptoms of the disease. As control over alcoholism progresses, so too will the corresponding emotional disorders.