Alcoholism - Causes, Symptoms And TreatmentA chronic disorder, alcoholism is usually described as an uncontrolled intake of alcoholic beverages that interferes with physical and mental health, social and familial relationships, and occupational responsibilities. Alcoholism cuts across all social and economic groups, involves both sexes, and occurs at all stages of the life cycle, beginning as early as elementary school age. About 13 % of all adults over age 18 have suffered from alcohol abuse or dependence at some time in their lives. Drinking is most prevalent between ages 21 and 34, but current statistics show that up to 19% of 12- to 17-yearolds have a serious drinking problem. Males are two to five times more likely to abuse alcohol than are females. According to some statistics, alcohol abuse is a factor in 60% of all motor vehicle accidents.
Causes of alcoholism
Numerous biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors appear to be involved in alcohol addiction. An offspring of one alcoholic parent is seven to eight times more likely to become an alcoholic than is a peer without such a parent. Biological factors may include genetic or biochemical abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine imbalances, and allergic responses.
Psychological factors may include the urge to drink alcohol to reduce anxiety or symptoms of mental illness; the desire to avoid responsibility in familial, social, and work relationships; and the need to bolster self-esteem.
Sociocultural factors include the availability of alcoholic beverages, group or peer pressure, an excessively
Signs and symptoms of alcoholism
Because people with alcohol dependence may hide or deny their addiction and may temporarily manage to maintain a functional life, assessing for alcoholism can be difficult.
Physical and psychosocial symptoms
Treatment of alcoholism
Total abstinence from alcohol is the only effective treatment. Supportive programs that offer detoxification, rehabilitation, and aftercare, including continued involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), may produce good long-term results.
Acute intoxication is treated symptomatically by supporting respiration, preventing aspiration of vomitus, replacing fluids, administering LV. glucose to prevent hypoglycemia, correcting hypothermia or acidosis, and initiating emergency treatment for trauma, infection, or GI bleeding.
Treatment of chronic alcoholism relies on medications to treat the effects of withdrawal; psychotherapy (consisting of behavior modification techniques, group therapy, and family therapy); and appropriate measures to relieve associted physical problems.
Aversion, or deterrent, therapy involves a daily oral dose of disulfiram to prevent compulsive drinking. Another form of aversion therapy attempts to induce aversion by administering alcohol with an emetic. Aversion therapy with disulfiram may only substitute one drug dependence for another, so it should be used prudently. For long-term success, the recovering individual must learn to fill the place alcohol once occupied in his life with something constructive.
Tranquilizers, particularly the benzodiazepines, occasionally are used to relieve overwhelming anxiety during rehabilitation. However, these drugs have addictive potential (substituting one substance abuse problem for another), and they can precipitate a coma or even death when combined with alcohol. x
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