2. How is alcoholism influenced by environmental factors?
Children who live with alcoholics are at increased risk because of genetic
and/or environmental factors. They may be at more risk for alcoholism
just as children of diabetics are at higher risk for diabetes. Children living
with alcoholics often develop unhealthy living patterns. They may not
learn how to trust themselves or others, how to handle uncomfortable
feelings, or how to build positive relationships. COAs who lack these
skills are also at higher risk for school failure, depression, increased
anxiety, as well as trouble with alcohol and other drugs.
6. How does alcohol affect the body?
Short-term effects of alcohol use include:
7. How does an alcoholic differ from an occasional drinker? Alcoholics have a problem with drinking. They drink excessively, develop tolerance, and become dependent on it.
9. What are the signs/symptoms of alcoholism?
Here are some quick clues:
- Inability to control drinking--it seems that regardless of what you
- decide beforehand, you frequently wind up drunk
- Using alcohol to escape problems
- A change in personality--turning from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde
- A high tolerance level--drinking just about everybody under the
- Blackouts--sometimes not remembering what happened while
- Problems at work or in school as a result of drinking
- Concern shown by family and friends about drinking
Interveiwee (Relative wishing to remain anonymous)
1. What is alcoholism? Alcoholism is for anybody that drinks alcohol that has made your life unmanagable.
2. How is alcoholism influenced by environmental factors? I think sometimes our friends drink so we try it. I think advertising on TV also does this. Peer-pressure too. And maybe in some cases, when our parents drink, it influences what we do later on.
3. How is alcoholism influenced by genetics? It absolutely is influenced by genetics. Scientists found that we actually inherit the gene that makes us alcoholics.
4. There are two types of alcoholism. What are the two types and who is affected? There is many types of acholism. There are functioning alcoholics. Those are the ones that are able to take care of their lives to a point, but they still hurt themselves and their family. And all their loved ones. A non-functioning alcoholic can't do anything because of the drinking.
5. Does gender (male or female) play a role in alcoholism? Not really. There are just as many women alcoholics as there are men alcoholics. Historically, it is harder for the women to admit they have a problem.
6. How does alcohol affect the body? It's very damaging to the body. It's a solvent which means it actually deteriates our body tissue and causes ulcers. It can destroy your liver. It also can injure your brain. (How?) It shuts off the oxygen supply to the brain
7. How does an alcoholic differ from an occasional drinker? An alcoholic, once he takes a drink, can't stop. Because he's allergic to the alcohol. (Allergy to the alcohol?) The strange thing about this allergy is that it creates a phenomenon called craving. The occasional drinker would have a drink, maybe two drinks, and not want anymore.
8. What can people do to prevent alcoholism? I think they should become more educated. First of all, they need to understand what their family history is. And to also have information avaliable so they can understand that they may have a drinking problem. If there is a family history of alcoholism.
10. When did you start drinking? I started drinking when I was eighteen, seventeen. No, I'm lying. The first time I drank, I was fifteen. I was in high school. It was before a halloween party.
11. What made you realize you had a drinking problem? Hm, my life started becoming unmanagable. (That sounds a lot like the AA. Have you been to AA?) Yes, I've been there. In fact, I still go there.
12. How did alcoholism affect your relationship with your family? It destroys relationships with our family. Our personalities change when we drink. Usually we're like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
13. How did alcoholism affect your job? Well, it made me lose a couple jobs. (Cause a lot of stress?) Oh, yes, it caused a lot of stress.
14. How did alcoholism affect your relationships with friends? It also damaged relationships with my friends. (How?) I just wasn't a dependable friend anymore.
15. Why did you start drinking? I guess I was curious.
16. What is AA? AA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope that they may someday solve their commmon problem and recover from alcoholism.
17. How can people become members of AA? All they have to do is show up at a meeting. There are no dues or fees. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking.
18. What age do most alcoholics begin drinking? I'd say at a young age. Fifteen or younger.
Q. What is the difference between being an alcoholic and an alcohol abuser? Is the latter a "functioning alcoholic?" Do they both need the same kind of treatment?
A. Technically, the difference between an alcoholic and an alcohol abuser is the difference between alcohol DEPENDENCE and alcohol ABUSE. Alcohol dependence (or alcoholism) is a more severe problem than alcohol abuse. However, alcohol abuse is also unhealthy, and it can develop into alcohol dependence.
The essential feature of both alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse is continued drinking despite significant alcohol-related problems. In alcoholics, the drinking pattern may include tolerance (the need for greatly increased amounts of alcohol to become intoxicated or to achieve the desired effect, or markedly diminished effects with continued use of the same amount of alcohol) and withdrawal (physiological, behavioral and cognitive changes that occur when the body levels of alcohol decline in someone who has maintained prolonged heavy drinking). Alcohol-dependent individuals will often drink to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
You don't have to demonstrate alcohol tolerance or withdrawal to meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence -- although if you demonstrate both tolerance and withdrawal, you've got two of the three criteria required for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (or DSM-IV), the "bible" of psychiatric diagnosis. An individual can be diagnosed as alcohol dependent if he or she demonstrates any three of the following (or one of the following if both tolerance and withdrawal are present):
- -- He or she drinks in larger amounts or over a longer period than he or she planned.
- -- He or she expresses a desire to cut down or control drinking, and has tried unsuccessfully to do so.
- -- He or she spends a great deal of time obtaining alcohol, drinking or recovering from the effects of drinking.
- -- He or she reduces or completely gives up important work or social activities because of alcohol use.
- -- He or she continues to drink despite recognizing that drinking causes or worsens physical and/or psychological problems.
Alcohol abuse, in contrast, is characterized by a problematic pattern of drinking in which drinking causes recurrent and significant adverse consequences. Those consequences may include:
- -- failure to fulfill major responsibilities such as work, school or domestic tasks
- -- recurrent drinking in hazardous situations (such as while driving)
- -- recurrent drinking-related legal problems (such as arrests for disorderly conduct while drinking)
- -- continued drinking despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by drinking (such as fights or marital arguments)
Perspectives on the appropriate treatment for alcoholics and alcohol abusers vary. The majority opinion is that alcoholics should stop drinking altogether, through addiction treatment programs or community support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Rational Recovery. I suspect most mental health professionals would also recommend that an alcohol abuser with a family history of alcoholism stop drinking altogether, to avoid developing alcohol dependence.
Some psychologists, however, believe that alcohol abusers or "problem drinkers" can learn to modify their drinking to healthy levels, a process called "controlled drinking." Thus, they provide counseling and education to teach alcohol abusers skills to lessen their drinking and prevent adverse consequences. There is some controversy about controlled drinking, however, with many mental health professionals believing it may feed into the typical abuser's denial of having a real problem.