Alcoholism is a serious addiction that can be described as an irresistible urge to consume alcohol. 1 Generally, people who suffer from alcoholism are well aware of the effects on their body; but they cannot resist the urge to consume alcohol. 2
Alcoholism has four distinct symptoms:
- 1. A strong need/desire to drink.
- 2. Inability to limit the number of drinks (loss of control).
- 3. Withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea once drinking has stopped (physical dependence).
- 4. A need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get ''high" (tolerance). 3
Alcohol causes people to lose control of their senses; therefore leading to one drink too many. Overstepping of your body's tolerance to handle alcohol is alcohol abuse. Continuing in this pattern will lead to addiction, also known as alcoholism. 4
Alcoholism is chronic and can last a person's lifetime. A person's lifestyle, as well as genetics, can have a factor in the development of alcoholism. s Other factors affecting alcoholism are age; race or ethnicity; physical condition; atnO\mt of food consumed before drinking; how quickly alcohol is consumed; use of drugs or prescription medications; and or family history. 6
So, what is alcohol? Alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol found in beer, wine and liquor that has been produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars and starches.7 A one 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor. Keep in mind that it is not the alcoholic beverage or drink that affects a person the most, moreover, it is the amount of ethanol consumed. 8