Alcohol addiction is a complex disease, often extremely hard to cure. Alcoholism occurs due to the prolonged and regular intake of alcoholic beverages. It is characterized by an abnormal state of the body: a strong craving for alcohol, degradation of the psyche with a decrease in the ability to memorize and analyze information and other mental activities, alcohol defeat of the internal organs and a change in the level of alcohol tolerance. For an alcoholic, the intoxicated mental state seems to be the optimal.
The Development of Alcohol Addiction
Naturally, alcoholism has its own causes, as any other illness. It starts as the occasional or social drinking, but then it gradually is settled as ‘a norm’, and eventually leads to a condition in which the body is no longer able to function without alcohol. Some people consume alcohol for fun and to fit in, and for others, it seems to be an easy or the only option to get away from problems or stress or grief.
The development of alcohol addiction depends to a great extent on the frequency and the amounts of alcohol intake, and, naturally, subjective and physiological factors of any specific person. Certain people are at a considerable risk of developing an alcohol addiction on the basis of their emotional predisposition, the corresponding circle of communication, as well as some genetic factors.
4 Stages of Alcohol Addiction
“Prodrome” (lit. definition “an early symptom indicating the onset of a disease or illness”) is considered to be the initial stage of alcohol use. At this stage, there is no addiction yet, but a so-called “ordinary drunkenness” – that is when a person drinks alcohol “on a special occasion”, with friends or at any kind of social party or gathering – however, not to the point of unconsciousness or any other dangerous consequences. Within this stage, a person can willingly stop drinking alcohol at any time. In most cases, people happen to be indifferent to the presence or absence of alcohol in the near future.
The first stage of alcoholism is accompanied by the constant experiencing of a strong desire of alcoholic beverages consumption. If at this stage the person manages to suppress the cravings for alcohol, they pass with time; but, in the case of reoccurring alcohol use, the degree of control in relation to the amount of the alcohol consumed is sharply reduced. Intoxication within the first stage is often characterized by spontaneous and unnecessary aggressiveness, and, at times, even partial memory loss. A cautious attitude towards drinking disappears; and the desire is formed to justify all the reasons for alcohol use.
Within the second stage of addiction, resistance to alcohol consumption is significantly decreased. The traction towards consuming alcoholic beverages is substantially increased, and self-control is deteriorating. Even after consuming small doses of alcohol, a person loses the ability to control the amounts of alcohol consumed. In a drunken state, the behavior becomes dangerous for others and unpredictable. Hallucinations at this stage indicate that the addict starts suffering from alcoholic psychosis.
The third stage of alcoholism is characterized by the complete inability of an alcoholic to resist consuming alcohol. Drinking becomes (almost) daily activity. A complete degradation of the personality of the patient takes its place with irreversible transformations of the psyche. The diseases of internal organs grow and become irreversible (alcoholic nephropathy, damage to the immune system, various types of anemia, the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage and brain hemorrhage). At this stage, there are unilateral changes in the nervous system, which lead to paresis (a condition of muscular weakness caused by nerve damage or disease; partial paralysis).
The outcome of alcohol consumption is horrible: the life expectancy decreases, families collapse, crime grows. Alcoholism has a huge negative impact on the quality of the gene pool of any country. The children of alcoholics are at a huge risk of a lower level of intelligence and a variety of acquired diseases of the central nervous system, which, of course, contributes to the abnormal formation of society as a whole. Moreover, kids of addicted parents suffer from verbal and physical abuse; also they have a much higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or any other substance since they are directly subjected to it in their own homes.
Alcohol addiction is, of course, a complex disease that breaks not only the addict himself, but also has a negative impact on the family living in continuous stress and addictive surrounding. But it would be a huge mistake to assume that alcoholism is an incurable disease.
The offer of the treatment of alcohol addiction should be approached carefully and thought out since one wrong step towards it can lead to serious consequences or even to irreversible changes in the body, sometimes incompatible with life.
By Chris Farni