Alcohol abuse and alcoholism
It’s not always easy to see when your drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking. But if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, you’re in potentially dangerous territory. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and take steps to cut back if you recognize them. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it.
One of the difficulties with eliminating alcohol abuse is its legality. Drinking itself is legal in nearly all the countries of the world. Being a little or a lot drunk is acceptable or even normal in many cultures. In other cultures, there are specific times and places when moderate drunkenness is considered usual–for example, in Western cultures at sporting events, New Year’s Eve parties, college campus parties and 21st- birthday celebrations.
Signs and symptoms of a problem with alcohol abuse may be overlooked or condoned by friends and coworkers until the damage starts to become obvious. For family members and close friends, the damage is probably apparent far sooner.
Physical signs of liquor overconsumption and intoxication are recognizable by most adults:
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Poor balance and clumsiness
- Delayed reflexes
- Stomach pains, vomiting or nausea
- Loss of consciousness or blacking-out
- Redness of the face during or after periods of consumption
It is possible for a person to reach a level of intoxication that becomes life-threatening (alcohol poisoning). The respiratory system becomes depressed, and the person will stop breathing.
What Causes Alcoholism?
Although scientists cannot pinpoint specific reasons why alcoholism develops, they have identified several contributing factors. Genetic predisposition, environment, and mental health are the leading risk factors for developing this disease. These factors explain why members of a family with similar life experiences may respond to alcohol consumption in different ways. Even in families where alcohol abuse and addiction are prevalent, different members may respond very differently to treatment and face unique challenges in recovery.