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What Is Alcoholism?

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that causes the sufferer to drink alcohol to function both physically and emotionally. The patient has an uncontrollable urge to drink alcohol, and this becomes a dependency. Alcoholism is common throughout the United States and Canada, with over three million cases every year.

There are varying levels of alcoholism; one that is often misunderstood is a functioning alcoholic. Although they are socially functional, a functioning alcoholic is still dependent on alcohol. These individuals still have jobs and families; however, they will regularly miss work because they drank too much. This form of alcoholism is common and often left alone because the patient and their families feel there is no issue. The condition cannot be cured, but the patient can be treated and go through rehabilitation.

what is alcoholism

What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?

There are several signs of alcoholism. Depending on how dependent the person is on alcohol, not all of these may be present. Here are the categorized symptoms:


The patient may experience outbursts of emotion, and this can cause aggression, compulsive actions, and lack of restraint. It is also common for patients to be agitated and have self-harming behavior.

Mood Swings

Alcoholics will often have drastic changes in their mood. They can be euphoric one minute and then become extremely anxious. Guilt, loneliness, and unhappiness are moods that alcoholics will experience regularly.

Health Issues

It is common for alcoholics to develop health issues. These include:

  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Insomnia;
  • Stomach ulcers;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Liver disease.


The alcoholic may also experience mental health issues; delirium is quite common in people who drink a lot of alcohol. It is not uncommon for them to also experience heightened fear, significantly when intoxicated.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms that people suffering from alcoholism may experience include:

  • Blackouts;
  • Dizziness;
  • Sweating;
  • Shakes;
  • Slurred speech.

How Can Alcoholism Be Rehabilitated?

The first step to rehabilitation from alcoholism is admitting that there is a problem. One cannot be cured of this chronic condition if they don’t believe there is a problem. The reason for this is that a lot of alcoholism starts with emotion; the addiction begins in the brain long before it ever affects the body physically.

The first stage of alcohol rehabilitation starts with ensuring there is no alcohol in the patient’s system. This can be extremely detrimental to the patient as they may experience extreme withdrawal symptoms. Some of the signs that are experienced when having alcohol withdrawals include:

  • Insomnia;
  • Shakes;
  • Vomiting;
  • Nausea;
  • Aggressive behavior;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Heart palpitations;

Ensuring that the patient is completely clear of any alcohol can take several days, even weeks.

Medications for Alcoholism

Several medications are available to treat alcoholism. In some cases, a sedative will be used to help with alcoholism. These sedatives will help to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms, reduce anxiety, and ease hand tremors. The problem with a sedative is they are known to be addictive and can lead to other issues.

People who are going through alcohol rehabilitation also take thiamine, which is high in vitamin B1. Alcoholics are often vitamin B1 deficient, which puts them at risk of cerebellar degeneration and cardiovascular issues.

Disulfiram is also given to alcoholics to stop them from consuming any alcohol. When alcohol is consumed after taking disulfiram, the patient will experience several uncomfortable side effects; these deter the patient from drinking and include headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision.

Acamprosate is also used when treating alcoholism. This medication restored a natural balance in the chemical in the brain. There will be side effects of alcohol is consumed when taking acamprosate.

Natural Ways to Rehabilitate from Alcoholism

Whenever possible, a natural remedy to alcoholism is recommended. Several different types of natural alcoholism rehabilitation are available. These include the following;

Acupuncture: This involves inserting needles into various areas of the body that are associated with ailments. Acupuncture is believed to help avoid withdrawal symptoms, alleviate anxiety and depression, and reduce cravings.

Dietary supplements: These nutritional supplements are often taken to help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Vitamins are notably effective in reducing the issues that alcoholism may cause a patient. When vitamin C is taken, it improves liver function, which will help reduce liver disease risk.

Yoga and other meditation techniques: Meditation techniques are often used in the rehabilitation of alcohol abuse. The reliance upon alcohol starts in the brain and then has an adverse effect on the sufferer’s health. Yoga and other meditation have shown excellent results in relieving the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Many patients have attempted hypnosis as a treatment of alcohol addiction to great effect.

Psychological Therapy: One of the most significant issues when it comes to alcohol rehab is the patient having a relapse. It is recommended that anyone who is going through alcoholism rehabilitation should partake in group therapy. It has been proven that the support provided during a group session makes the person less likely to relapse.

It is not unheard of for people recovering from alcoholism. The most effective way to overcome this chronic condition is to seek help and utilize a rehabilitation center’s services. Getting the available professional help will make it far more likely that one will recover from alcoholism. Finding the right individualized program to suit your addiction is key to overcoming the addiction. The environment that the alcoholic is released back into will impact how likely they are to have a relapse.

It is imperative that the patient is in an environment that discourages alcohol consumption. The lifestyle that was being lived before their alcohol rehabilitation needs to be avoided if they are to prevent a relapse. The pressure that the sufferer will be under to drink again can be too much if those around them are always encouraging the behavior. For this reason, joining a group therapy session is vital, and often it can be best for the person to change their life completely. A move away and a social group change may be needed to ensure that a relapse does not occur.

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