Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The
disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or
periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol,
use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most
notably denial (NCADD)." It`s effects on an individual are an
indescribable, harsh, reality of what one drug can do to an individual. Some
people wonder when drinking becomes a problem. For most adults, moderate alcohol
use, no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women is relatively
harmless. A "drink" consists of 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of
wine or 12 ounces of beer (Etiology). Moderate use, however, lies at one end of
a continuum that moves through alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence. Alcohol
abuse is a drinking pattern that results in consequences that are significant
and recurrent. Alcoholics may fail to fulfill major school, work, or family
obligations. They may have drinking-related legal problems, such as DUI`s and
they may have relationship problems related to their drinking. People with
alcoholism have become compulsive in their alcohol use. Although they can
control their drinking at times, they are often unable to stop once they start.

As their tolerance increases, they may need more and more alcohol to achieve the
same "high". Or they may become physically dependent on alcohol,
suffering withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, restlessness,
irritability, tremors and even hallucinations and convulsions when they stop
after a period of heavy drinking. It doesn't matter what kind of alcohol someone
drinks or even how much: alcohol dependent people simply lack control over their
drinking. Alcohol-related disorders are caused by many things. Problem drinking
has multiple causes, with genetic, physiological, psychological and social
factors all playing a role (Sher & Trull). For some alcoholics,
psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem and a need for
approval prompt inappropriate drinking. Others drink as a way of coping with
emotional pain. Still others use alcohol to "medicate themselves. Heavy
drinking can cause physiological changes that make more drinking the only way to
avoid discomfort. Genetic factors cause some people to be especially vulnerable
to alcohol. However, a family history of alcoholism doesn't mean that children
of alcoholics will automatically grow up to become alcoholics themselves.

Environmental factors such as peer pressure and the easy availability of alcohol
can also play roles. Although alcohol-related disorders can strike anyone,
poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds. Alcoholics, as a
group, tend to demand a lot of themselves as individiuals. They put an enormous
amont of emphasis on trying to please others and themselves. The frustration
that can become of this is all but pleasing. They may become pinfully depressed
or overly agressive causing family life to deteriorate rapidly (Family). If the
person is married, the significant other is forced to make a decision as to
whether they are going to stay with the alcoholic or not. Many families try to
deny the fact that the person is an alcoholic causing the situation to
deteriorate even further. One may wonder how alcoholisim affects the family. By
allowing an alcoholic`s behavior to be controlled by a substance, the abuser,
family members, friends and colleagues unknowingly become part of the problem.

Substance abusers cannot stop the habit of drinking without the help of others.

Abusing alcohol can have several effects on the family. These things can be
anything like a lack of trust in other people, difficulty expressing feelings,
working hard to keep things going at home and school, insecurity, loneliness,
anger, frustration, guilt, and fear (Family). However, one should not accept
blame for someone else`s behavior, have an attitude that makes the alcohoic
think that they are less than oneself, use the if you loved me you would stop
appeal, make idle threats, argue with the alcoholic when they are under the
influence, and have unrealistic expectations. What one really should do is learn
the facts about alcoholisim, develop an attitude to match the facts, talk to
someone such as a professional counselor about alcoholisim, make use of sources
such as Al-Anon, maintain a healthy lifestyle for oneself, and take a stand
about an alcohol free environment. The symptoms of alcoholisim can start out
minor and hard to detect at first, however they will rapidly show themselves
over the course of time. Many of the symptoms may include loss of continuous
impared control over drinking, progression with the drug, use of alcohol despite
consequences, distortions in thinking, personality change, and most notably
denial (ESBRA). Many alcoholics say that they have a good