Surprisingly, many people wonder what an alcoholic is and what is alcoholism.
There is much information to be covered on the subject of alcoholism.
The coverage here of this disease will be but a glimpse of the condition.
The term alcoholism is given to a disease which creates a strong craving for alcohol.
The person that has this condition is considered to be an alcoholic. These people seem to have varying degrees
of need in their drinking desires. While some seem to need the alcoholic beverage constantly others only seem to
crave a drink when something goes wrong for them or causes them a degree of stress which is more than they feel
they can handle on their own.
Still, others are what are known as a social drinker. While the medical world does not know the exact causative
factor in alcoholism there is a suggestion that social factors, genetic factors and psychological factors all
contribute to the development of this condition.
Additionally, the term alcoholism is not simply equivalent to excessive drinking of any magnitude.
It is more a relationship of severity and to the extent of the disorders related to alcohol use along a
And while the person with a drinking problem might even realize they could harm their health or circumstances in
their life caused by excessive drinking, they seem to not have the ability to control the drinking and cravings for
They can grow to depend on that alcoholic drink as a means to support their psychological well being.
They have become dependent on alcohol. But to what magnitude? Well, the magnitude of a drinking problem varies
with each affected person.
As such, there have been some terms created to signify to what degree a person is affected by the need for
What are these terms or levels of disorder?
* Social Drinker
* Heavy Drinker
* Problem Drinker
* Alcohol Dependent
The least severe of the alcohol disorder is: Social and the most severe is a dependent drinker. Furthermore,
with each increase in drinking needs, the health risks also will increase. Lets look at what these levels basically
A social drinker is defined as a person who drinks to enhance their experience at a social gathering but the
drinking is not the focus of their activity.
Did You Know
Women process alcohol differently than men. Women who are alcoholics or even
occasionally drink too much alcohol face much greater health risks than men who drink the same
Women who drink will get drunk faster than men get and become addicted to alcohol
faster than men become.
Although men are more likely to drink alcohol and drink in larger amounts, gender
differences in body structure and chemistry cause women to absorb more alcohol, and take longer to
break it down and remove.
In other words, upon drinking equal amounts, women have higher alcohol levels in
their blood than men, and the immediate effects occur more quickly and last longer.
These differences also make women more vulnerable to alcohol’s long-term effects on
Research has shown that they also suffer the consequences of abuse-related
illnesses a lot quicker than men do.
The effects on the liver are more severe for women than for men and women have a
higher risk of having alcohol-related liver diseases such as cirrhosis and
Proportionately, more women die of alcohol related cirrhosis than men
Some alcohol-related illnesses that female alcoholics are at risk for include heart
disease, ulcers, reproductive problems, pancreatitis, memory loss, and
In the late stages of alcoholism, women can develop hypertension, anemia, and
malnutrition faster than men according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Several recent research projects have determined that excessive alcohol consumption
in women can result in breast cancer and different cancers of the digestive tract.
A recent study showed that women who drink two to five alcoholic drinks per day
have a 41 percent increase in their risk of getting breast cancer.
Research has shown that excessive drinking in women actually causes the brain to
A heavy drinker is basically defined as a person who incorporates alcoholic drinking into more and more
activities with the focus being on drinking.
A Problem drinker is basically defined as a person who does not recognize that drinking alcoholic beverages
and getting the resulting intoxicating effects have become a goal in itself.
They often will deal with a problem by drinking even if it was originally caused by having too much to
Drinking steadily and consistently over time can cause a physical dependence on alcohol as
well as withdrawal symptoms when going without alcohol for very long.
Physical dependence will not lead to alcoholism by itself. There must first be issues
involved that cause the person to abuse alcohol and to abuse alcohol in an effort to deal with
painful emotions and/or experiences.
Many factors lead to alcoholism and alcohol abuse. These things are important to recognize
when the alcoholic goes through recovery and quits abusing alcohol.
Any factors that can be removed or solved need to be addressed as part of the alcoholism
An alcohol dependent person is a drinker that can not control or resist the urge to drink an alcoholic drink
This is the stage or level that a doctor considers a serious disease.
So, there you have a brief explanation of what qualifies someone as an alcoholic and a brief look at