Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that progressively worsens if the affliction is not treated. It causes the patient to crave alcohol and drink it despite repercussions from it like losing a job, a driver's license or a relationship. Around 18 million people in the United States alone abuse alcohol. Alcoholism is involved in more than half of all car and industrial-related fatalities, drowning and cases of child or domestic abuse. Thankfully, there is alcoholism treatment available to help.
The symptoms of alcohol addiction may include a craving for alcohol; an inability to control drinking choices; an increased tolerance for alcohol, requiring larger amounts to feel the effects; dysfunction at work, and in social situations; malnutrition and loss of appetite; repeated infections; impaired concentration that affects performance; bad judgment; irritability, hostility, aggression and disruption of sleep patterns.
Progression of the disease may lead to vomiting, diarrhea and gastrointestinal bleeding; inflammation of the pancreas; withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety when not drinking; lung conditions; liver disease; poor healing of wounds; fluid buildup in the body; hypoglycemia and hypothermia. In men, there may be an increased sex drive but a decreased ability to maintain erections; in women, miscarriage and a ceasing of menstrual periods.
Alcohol addiction may run in families, so if someone has a family history of this disease, they may be predisposed to it if they choose to abuse alcohol. Other factors that may contribute to alcoholism include being exposed to a lot of stress, having a pre-existing psychiatric problem, beginning to drink alcohol at a young age, smoking, and drinking more than one or two drinks daily.
If you become aware any of these symptoms or behaviors in yourself or your family members, it is time to take action. If it is you, seek professional help. If it is someone in your family, talk to them in a supportive manner and if they decide to seek help, try to support them as much as possible during recovery.