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Alcoholism And It's Effects

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What exactly is alcoholism, how do you know who has it, and how do you get rid of it? Alcoholism also known as "alcohol dependence syndrome," is defined as being a disease that is characterized by cravings, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance. Alcoholism is also defined as a chronic, progressive, relapsing brain disease that around five percent of Americans die from. "It is a widely used drug, tolerated physiologically and socially, with a place in religious ceremony, in ritual, in spontaneous celebration, and in everyday social transactions, but also a drug that contributes extensively to illness, to violence, to social order, and mortality" (Trum 1). Unbelievably stated, forty percent of alcoholism is caused by genetic factors.

Alcoholism also runs in families, so it is likely for more than one member in a family to have an alcohol problem. For most people, alcohol is a pleasant complement to social activities, but studies show that nearly one in every fourteen adults either are alcohol abusers, or are alcoholic. Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks, how long one has been drinking, or even exactly how much alcohol one consumes. But it does have a great deal to do with an individual's uncontrollable feelings of need for alcohol. The "disease" of alcoholism is uncontrollably lethal; statistics show that ninety five percent of untreated alcoholics die of it. Alcoholism has a variety of important topics, but the most influential are the signs of alcoholism, health related effects, and the treatment procedures to rid the problem.

The concept of Alcoholism is displayed briefly throughout the award winning play, A Raisin in the Sun. This play depicts a poor black family in the early 1960's who deals with everyday struggles such as poverty and racism. The family comes across an ample amount of money from the death of a loved one, and has controversy over what to do with the money, and what happens to it. Walter Lee who is a son, father, and husband in the play allows alcohol to give him poor behavioral judgment throughout the play. While reading the play it is obvious when Walter had been drinking because it caused his behaviors and actions to change vividly. It was as if he was in a different state of mind because it caused him to act and talk with no distinction, he had no control or did not even realize some of the things he was doing (Hansberry 1381-1446).

Recognizing whether or not someone is an alcoholic can be determined by the following factors. Trying to cut down on drinking, having an annoying feeling when someone talks to them about drinking, having feelings of guilt when it comes to drinking, and/or by using alcohol in the mornings to steady the nerves. One true factor out of the four suggests that there may be an alcohol problem for an individual. More than one true factor out of the four, suggests that there are high chances of an alcohol problem. For the true alcoholic, when the body is deprived of alcohol, physical and mental withdrawal symptoms become evident. Also the behavioral changes in a person, or the way one tends to act can be a recognizing factor. "Alcohol may facilitate aggressive behavior" (NIAAA 1). In the play, "A Raisin in the Sun," Walter Lee acted with mild aggression when had been drinking. "Walter stares at them in frustration and starts to speak at her several times"(Hansberry 1406).

Conflicts with characteristics in an individual's personality are frequent in alcoholism, sometimes over existent. Factors range from low self-esteem to an antisocial personality. Additional factors that may make an individual susceptible to alcoholism may include hyper vigilance, compulsiveness, and chronic levels of anxiety. For the most part it is just as important to look inside the individual suspected as having a drinking problem, as part of an examination. It is also greatly effective to find out whether or not the individual is containing or requiring any special feelings or concerns. While looking into the situation whiled trying to figure out whether or not an individual is having an alcohol problem you need to figure out and ask questions to yourself such as, "What does alcohol do for the person, and what inner conflict areas exist and how dos the person deal with them?" (St. Clair 22). Walter Lee in, "A Raisin in the Sun showed in so many ways that alcohol was a comfort for him when he was angry, a way for him to escape reality. For example, Walter Lee gets mad and storms out of the apartment after a conversation with his mother, when he comes back he is said to have been drinking. "Walter comes in during this performance, he has obviously been drinking. He leans against the door heavily" (Hansberry 1410).

In most cases as previously mentioned, there is a family history of alcoholism and alcoholics, since the disease is hereditary. It is stated that alcohol can be inherited in two forms. The first has been said to take years to develop and may not surface to around the time of midlife, and the other, which is passed from fathers to sons, begins earlier in life, and is more severe. In this case it is important to look back on or to find out the family history of alcohol abuser. This should be done for information about, "...presence, severity, duration, consequences and outcome" (St. Clair 23).

When a family has recognized the aspect of alcoholism in a relative it brings about additional disruption into their lives. Most families begin trying various ways to deal and cope with the presence of the alcoholic in their family. Eventually things will get better for the family but most likely when therapy has begun. It is at this time that family members are encouraged to participate in the aspects of recovery.

The nature of treatment depends on how severe an individuals alcohol problem, and the resources that are available. Treatment can include the process of ridding all the alcohol out of one's system, known as detoxification; taking doctor prescribed medications, such as naltrexone, to help prevent a return to drinking once drinking has stopped; and individual and/or group counseling sessions. There are certain types of counseling that teach recovering alcoholics to identify situations and feelings that trigger the urge to drink and to find new ways to cope that do not include the use of alcohol. These treatments can be provided in a hospital or residential treatment setting or on an outpatient basis. Statistics show that thirty percent of outpatient treatment individuals drop out, compared to a ten percent drop out for inpatient treatment.

Many people do not want treatment for their alcohol abuse, because they are in denial, and do not believe they have a problem with alcohol.



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