Is Alcoholism A Disease?

By definition, alcoholism is a diagnosable, treatable disease. Alcohol is a drug like any other, and while periodic drinks generally have only temporary effects, chronic usage can quickly form a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. If someone you know has an alcohol abuse problem, it’s important that they seek out an alcohol addiction program in Tennessee.

The Symptoms and Effects of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is more than a lifestyle decision. Like any chronic illness, it has measurable effects on an addict’s brain and body and is best treated by medical professionals. Beyond the immediate effects of being drunk, the symptoms of chronic alcoholism are as varied as they are severe:

  • Is Alcoholism A Disease?Liver damage
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Pancreatitis
  • Malnourishment and severe vitamin deficiency
  • Cardiovascular conditions (Such as heart disease and high blood pressure)
  • Increased risk for certain cancers
  • Stomach ulcers and digestive issues
  • Weakened immune system
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (Wet Brain)
  • Dementia and brain damage

Chronic conditions also tend to have lifestyle consequences, and alcoholism is no exception. Alcoholics are more likely to get into trouble with the law, develop unhealthy relationships, and financially cripple themselves; however, functional alcoholics can and do exist and might lead successful lives despite their addiction. Individuals who seem to “have it all together” might still have serious alcohol abuse problems, which are no less severe on a psychological level even if they seem fine. Dual diagnosis is a common companion to alcoholics, as addiction is often accompanied by co-occurring mental disorders such as clinical depression. These can be caused by brain damage, hormone or chemical imbalances, and the social stress that can stem from alcoholism (especially if prone to angry outbursts or an antisocial disposition). 

Another of the primary factors that define alcohol addiction as a chronic illness is the risk of relapse. Individuals with substance abuse disorders have a 40 to 60 percent chance to relapse into their vice after receiving professional treatment, as compared to 50 to 70 percent for those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and similar conditions. Of course, this is to say nothing of those who attempt to get over their addiction unassisted, among whom relapse rates are significantly higher.

Alcoholism Can Be Treated Like Any Disease

Many alcoholics don’t view their substance abuse problem as, well, a problem. This is especially true for those who otherwise have successful lives. If you’re an alcoholic yourself or need to address someone who is, it’s important to remember that alcohol addiction is a disease with an inevitable cost to your health and the ever-present possibility of fatality. If you knew you had cancer, wouldn’t you seek treatment, even if it wasn’t currently interfering with your job and life? Getting help at Discovery Place’s alternative treatment center is proven to minimize the odds of relapse for addicts, so please, contact us at 1-800-725-0922 at any time of day to learn more about how we can help.

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