10 Cold Hard Facts About Alcoholism
Many myths and misconceptions surround the disease of alcoholism, one of which is that it’s not a disease. Rest assured, according to the medical definition of the word disease, it is most definitely categorized as a disease and has been recorded as such in American medical books since the 1800s. Let’s demystify alcoholism by these facts. Please share this with friends and family members who are skeptical about alcoholism.
- Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, and fatal disease
A chronic disease is defined as one, which is ongoing and doesn’t go away on its own. Examples of chronic diseases are diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that is progressive meaning, if left untreated, it will get worse over time. Finally, alcoholism is a fatal disease. The progression of alcoholism will lead to an untimely death.
- Alcoholism does not discriminate between gender, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, level of education, or career choice.
Anyone can become an alcoholic. Studies show that alcoholism hits harder with certain genetic predispositions and/ or certain ethnicities. Men seem to be more predisposed to alcoholism than women. The Irish seem to be more predisposed than Asians. But all in all, no one group is completely excluded from being a victim to alcoholism.
- You do not need to drink every day to be an alcoholic.
Most often, drinking alcohol daily is not seen until late stage alcoholism (Stage 3 alcoholism). Binge drinking once weekly or even once monthly can qualify you as an alcoholic. Binge drinking means drinking more than 5 drinks in a period (a day or evening, for example) for a man or more than 4 drinks for a woman. One drink is a 12 oz glass of beer, 8-9 fluid ounces of malt liquor, a 5 fluid oz glass of wine or 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits.
- You can have a job, have a home and pay your bills and still be an alcoholic.
Many people think that in order to be qualified as an alcoholic they need to be homeless and eating out of trash cans. This is a common misconception. More often than not, alcoholics are high-functioning for a long time.
- Alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in the United States each year. And 1 in 10 deaths in all working adults are due to alcohol misuse (abuse).
Alcohol misuse is a contributor to over 350 diseases and disorders.
- Approximately 21 million adults in the United States suffer from Alcoholism or medically referred to as alcohol misuse disorder. However, only 10% are receiving treatment for alcoholism.
Take into account that these numbers include those who are diagnosed. There are many more who will never be diagnosed by a medical professional. Do you see that your loved one is not the only one? Alcoholism is a very common disease, though it still lurks in the darkness.
- One-third of all alcoholics die by suicide each year.
Other alcohol-related untimely deaths include: accidents and injuries, liver disease, cancers and heart attacks.
- Abstinence is the only way to arrest the disease of alcoholism.
Alcoholics who want to get better and enter recovery must stop alcohol consumption and must not consume any other mind-altering substance. If an alcoholic goes back to drinking or using after a period of abstinence, the disease often comes back faster and stronger than before.
- Alcoholism does tend to run in families.
There is hard scientific evidence of a genetic link to alcoholism. Environmental factors, such as growing up in an alcoholic home, seem to contribute to the behavioral factors in alcoholism.
- Early intervention and prevention work to get people on the road to recovery.
Education and awareness start with you. You can help lift the disease of alcoholism out of the darkness by helping others understand the nature of the disease. You can help them know that it’s not shameful or a moral failing but a disease that can be treated.
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