Alcoholism is recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease. It is a disease in which the afflicted individual compulsively drinks alcohol. This creates an intense craving resulting in the inability to manage one’s control over his or her drinking. The more the afflicted individual uses alcohol, the stronger the body’s physical dependence on it will become. The resulting tolerance causes a person to drink greater amounts in order to achieve the same effects. Often the person will begin to crave the alcohol in the same manner as someone starving from food or water. Individuals with the disease of alcoholism typically continue their consumption regardless of the damage it causes to their health, relationships, career, or finances, as the compulsion – both physiological and psychological – are uncontrollable.
Many people confuse alcoholism with alcohol abuse. While most consider these two conditions to be the same, they are very different yet equally dangerous conditions. Both are exceedingly difficult to rehabilitate without the proper treatment.
Like many other diseases, alcoholism is commonly passed genetically. While this genetic link has been scientifically determined, an individual’s lifestyle, environment, stress level, and the availability of alcohol also play a significant role in the development of this chronic disease. Fortunately, just because someone is “at risk” for the disease of alcoholism does not mean he or she will develop it. Understanding an individual’s risk level, however, can be key to protecting oneself and getting the necessary help needed as early as possible.