What Makes An Alcoholic?

Alcohol consumption is as old as time wherein historical, and even biblical accounts would narrate the inclusion of alcohol in their daily meal or part of any occasion.  In the story of The Wedding of Cana, Jesus performed a premature miracle of turning water into wine because there was no longer enough supply to offer the guests. It is ever-present when soldiers come home to celebrate a well-fought battle, an Emperor recently conquered a nation, or when treaties are signed; celebrations begin and last with overflowing wine.  

 

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The connection of alcohol to humanity is somehow perpetual, and it will never diminish nor wane. Despite the pleasure and satisfaction, it brings to consumers, the likelihood of developing a harmful habit is not far from becoming if the person does not know how to control his drinking habits. Let’s examine what makes an alcoholic and how can this be prevented. 

Effects Of Alcoholism 

 

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From the annals of psychiatric mental health, no single cause or factor is linked to the development of any psychological condition, including the problem of addiction. Alcoholism is a form of addictive behavior where the person loses control over drinking alcohol and cannot stop once they start. If there are persons who cannot function well without drinking coffee first, alcoholics are the same in this manner – they get hyped and energized when alcohol touches their lips. Nonetheless, alcohol is fatal than coffee and drinking too much can progress to mental illness if the person develops other harmful habits that can affect self, relationships with family, friends, and even work. Moreover, chronic alcoholics are at high risk to develop medical complications such as liver cirrhosis, Wernicke’s encephalopathy, pancreatitis, ulcer, and digestive problems, decrease in immune system functioning, malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, cancer, and much more. 

Biologic Factors 

Some studies explain the familial connection of alcoholism. Some experts believe this is a matter of nature vs. nurture debacle. If children see their parents as alcoholics, there is an excellent possibility that they too will practice the same behaviors later in adult life. Twin and adoption studies have proved that the children of biologic parents who are alcoholics have shown a higher possibility of alcoholism compared to those whose parents are not alcoholics. With this premise, experts explained that there is a genetic component of alcoholism as an inherent vulnerability that is further influenced by other factors such as social and environmental elements. 

Ingestion of alcohol in the initial stages can make the person elated, release inhibitions, and even alleviate any painful experience. These feelings are addictive, and it makes the person drink more. However, the later stage of alcohol drinking is considered as the depressive phase. As alcohol enters the blood-brain barrier, it affects the neurotransmitters in the brain leading to decreasing sensory and cognitive processes. Some persons have an internal warning mechanism that will signal them to stop drinking as soon as threshold levels are reached. Those who lack this internal alarm will continue to drink until they are intoxicated. The process repeats until the person develops a habit of drinking alcohol most of the time even without any meaningful reason. 

Social And Environmental Factors 

The start of the adolescent period is the most critical years where teenagers are faced with situations wherein their control and manner to say no to vices are tested. Peer pressure plays a significant role in the beginnings of being an alcoholic. Alcohol drinking is very adjacent to surviving teenage years. This is where the laws in prohibiting selling and distribution of alcoholic drinks become relevant. In some places, selling alcohol to minors are not allowed and is punishable by law. However, this is not the same in some locations or countries. Without restrictions, teenagers and even young children can buy any liquors in any convenient store. 

Management  

 

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Continuous education drive to spread the detrimental effects of alcohol is still a priority and highly preferred method of preventing alcoholism among the younger generation. To those who are already starting to drink, they can be reminded of drinking moderately and engage in other social activities other than drinking alcoholic drinks. Individuals diagnosed with chronic alcoholism are advised to undergo 12 steps of psychotherapy sessions or rehabilitated from addictive behavior. Psychiatrists will also include the administration of psychopharmacologic treatment to manage any physical symptoms which can be fatal especially during the withdrawal stage. Lastly, the support of family and loved ones is essential and can aid in the rehabilitation program of the person recovering from alcoholism. 

 

Reference: 

Mayfield, R. D., Harris, R. A., & Schuckit, M. A. (2008). Genetic factors influencing alcohol dependence. British Journal of Pharmacology, 154(2), 275–287. http://doi.org/10.1038/bjp.2008.88