alcoholism symptomAlcoholism is a disorder that is characterized by a person’s excessive and strong dependence on alcohol. Statistics have revealed that between 10-20% of men and 5-10% of women in the United States may meet the criteria for the diagnosis of alcoholism at some point in their lives.

Alcoholism usually brings about tolerance or withdrawal symptoms. The consumption-induced tolerance is generally caused by the constant and regular drinking of alcohol. As a result, the body becomes less and less sensitive to the effects of the substance, creating that need to drink more.

This is a very dangerous stage as too much alcohol intake can badly damage the liver, building up fat tissue and scars around the organ. The damage created reduces the liver’s ability to screen and filter the blood of alcohol and toxins, which may result in very high blood alcohol concentration and rapid intoxication.

The level of alcohol tolerance can depend mainly on the person’s body weight and mass. Naturally, fat or overweight people will need a higher dose of the substance to be able to feel its effects than those with lighter built. This is probably the reason why men are more frequently diagnosed with alcoholism than women.

Alcoholism is also highly attributed to the amount of alcohol dehydrogenases in the body. Alcohol dehydrogenases or ADH are a group of enzymes that are responsible for breaking down alcohol in the bloodstream and in the liver. Clinical studies have shown that people who have genes that encode for slower metabolizing ADH appear to be more prone to alcoholism than others. The mutation of ADH2 and ADH3 has been related to alcoholism in most Asian populations.

Also, studies have revealed that long-term use of alcohol may also lead to certain mental conditions. Cognitive illnesses such as dementia are very common among patients diagnosed with alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can also lead to permanent brain damage, which can in turn lead to other types of psychological conditions.

Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression are also very common symptoms of alcoholism. Patients diagnosed with the disorder may constantly feel worried and afraid for no reason at all. These symptoms can worsen during the withdrawal period but can also disappear with continued alcohol abstinence. In worse cases, patients may also show symptoms of psychosis, confusion and panic disorders, all of which are believed to be a direct result of long-term alcohol use.

Alcoholism can have deleterious effects on a patient’s social life as well. Studies have shown a very high correlation between alcohol abuse and cases of child abuse, rape, robbery and assault. The deleterious effects of alcohol abuse on patients may damage relationships with family and friends. It can break up marriages and even be a cause of domestic violence.

Alcoholism is primarily brought about by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. This is the very reason why there are certain racial groups that are more vulnerable to alcoholism than others. Today, there are several established medical procedures done for proper diagnosis of alcoholism. And just like all the other disorders, early diagnosis is a must for fast and effective treatment.

see also: Alcoholism detox

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