Alcoholism

I am sitting at home playing Nintendo with my roommate, jake, when I hear a
knock at the door. I wonder who in the world would be coming over this late at
night, because it\'s after midnight. As I open the door, the tired, bloodshot
eyes of my upstairs neighbor, Steve, stare at me. "Hi Sam," Steve says. As
he attempts to enter my apartment, he stumbles on the slight rise where the
weather strip runs under the door. As he trips, his forehead smashes onto the
edge of the coffee table leaving a deep and bloody gash. I run in the bathroom
and grab a towel while Jake tries to help Steve. It doesn\'t take us long to
realize that Steve is going to need stitches and is in no condition to drive. He
smells strongly of alcohol. We place a make-shift bandage on his cut and throw
him in Jake\'s Chevy truck. On the way to the hospital, Steve starts complaining
about being really cold. He is talking incoherently and half crying. I ask Steve
what he has been doing, and he just hangs his head down mumbling about drinking.

Steve isn\'t a social drinker. He drinks alone. He explains that he has been
drinking by himself all night long. Steve is not a young college kid
experimenting with alcohol. Steve is over thirty years old. Steve drinks nearly
every night. Steve is an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease that affects many
people in the United States today. It not only affects the alcoholic, but also
their family, friends, co-workers, and eventually total strangers. The symptoms
are many, as are the causes and the effects. Alcoholism is defined as a pattern
of drinking in which harmful consequences result for the drinker, yet, they
continue to drink. There are two types of drinkers. The first type, the casual
or social drinker, drinks because they want to. They drink Dodd 2 with a friend
or with a group for pleasure and only on occasion. The other type, the
compulsive drinker, drinks because they have to, despite the adverse effects
that drinking has on their lives. The symptoms of alcoholism vary from person to
person, but the most common symptoms seen are changes in emotional state or
stability, behavior, and personality. "Alcoholics may become angry and
argumentative, quiet and withdrawn or depressed. They may also feel more
anxious, sad, tense, and confused. They then seek relief by drinking more"
(Gitlow 175). "Because time and amount of drinking are uncontrollable, the
alcoholic is likely to engage in such behaviors as [1] breaking family
commitments, both major and minor; [2] spending more money than planned; [3]
drinking while intoxicated and getting arrested; [4] making inappropriate
remarks to friends, family, and co-workers; [5] arguing, fighting and other
anti-social actions. The alcoholic would probably never do such things, nor
approve of them in others unless he was drinking" (Johnson 203). The cause
of alcoholism is a combination of biological, psychological, and cultural
factors that may contribute to the development of alcoholism in an individual.

Alcoholism seems to run in families. "Although there is no conclusive
indication of how the alcoholism of families members is associated, studies show
that 50 to 80 percent of all alcoholics have had a close alcoholic
relative" (Caplan 266). Some researchers have suggested that in several
cases, alcoholics have an inherited, predisposition to alcohol addiction.

Studies of animals and human twins have lent support to this theory. Alcoholism
can also be related to emotional instabilities. For example, alcoholism is often
associated with a family history of manic-depressive illness. Dodd 3

Additionally, like many other drug abusers, alcoholics often drink hoping to
"drown\' anxious or depressed feelings. Some alcoholics drink to reduce
strong inhibitions or guilt about expressing negative feelings. Social and
cultural factors play roles in to establishing drinking patterns and the
development of alcoholism. In some cultures, there is conflict between
abstaining and accepting the use of alcohol as a way to change moods or to be
social, thus making it difficult for some people to develop stable attitudes
about and moderate patterns of drinking. Society tends to aid in the development
of alcoholism by making alcohol seem glamorous, showing that by drinking, you
will become more popular, more glamorous and more worthy of respects from
others. The physical effects of alcoholism are some what gruesome. Excessive in
take and prolonged use of alcohol can cause serious disturbances in body
chemistry. "Many alcoholics exhibit swollen and tender livers. The
prolonged use of large amounts of alcoholism without adequate diet may cause
serious liver damage, such as cirrhosis of