What is Alcoholism?

In the broadest sense, alcoholism can be defined as any uncontrollable drinking of alcoholic beverages that causes problems for the drinker, be it health, psychological, relationships, work, school, or legal issues, for example.

More specifically, alcoholism can be described as a chronic, progressive disease characterized by excessive drinking. It is defined by a person’s inability to stop, and that, if not treated, will result in severely negative consequences for the sufferer—both psychologically and physiologically.

It is “progressive” because over time, the symptoms of the disease and the damage done by the abuse of alcohol worsen (while a physical dependency to and tolerance for alcohol increases). It is “chronic” because it is a condition that will last for a person’s entire life.

There is no cure for alcoholism. It is a disease that with proper treatment and maintenance can be controlled or managed, but never cured. The designation of alcoholism as a disease helps explain why the vast majority of alcoholics cannot “just stop” or rely on “willpower” to stop drinking. That expectation is unrealistic, just as it would be for any other person diagnosed with any other disease.

A recovering alcoholic should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Adhere to a healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of regular exercise (physical, mental, and spiritual).
  • Distance themselves from people, places, and things that are a bad influence (i.e. drinking buddies).
  • Monitor their moods.
  • Take the time to seek help from others.

In other words, it is possible for an alcoholic to learn how to manage their disease and arrest its progress so they can go on to live a healthy, productive life—just like everyone else.

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