Most of the people consider alcoholism as a conscious behavior of an individual which could easily be stopped when wanted. However, these people could not realize that alcoholism is a complex mental disorder which requires help from health care personnel (Cui et al., 2013). Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is a type of mental disorder which could affect any individual. According to Cui et al. (2013), alcohol addiction or also known as alcohol dependency is a mental disorder which is associated with a complex brain mechanisms and involves alterations in the brain cells.
The objective of this essay is to evaluate the brain disorder called alcohol addiction. The paper also opts to discuss the causes of alcohol addiction, its risk factors, prevalence and treatment methods.
Causes of Addiction
The main cause of alcohol addiction is not universally known although there are factors which are considered to lead to this brain disorder (Cui et al., 2013). Most experts agree that high level consumption of alcohol could lead to alcoholism or alcohol addiction. They believe that alcoholism develops when the large quantity of alcohol in the body alters the brain functions and lead to the addiction behavior. The brain of heavy alcohol drinkers usually remembers the feeling of pleasure when drinking alcohol. The development of alcoholism is slightly slow compared to the other types of addiction. Researchers are focusing on the study about the alteration of the brain function as the main factor for the development of alcoholism (Ciubara et al, 2015).
The most common risk factor for the development of alcoholism or alcohol addiction is the excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks. The risk factors for alcohol addiction could differ from individuals since people have their own blood alcohol level or capacity. In most cases, males have higher tolerance to alcohol and females (Barker & Taylor, 2014). There are other factors which are considered to be the cause of the development of alcoholism. Alcohol addiction is sometimes associated with genetics. Individuals who have a relative with any type of addiction has higher risk of developing alcoholism or alcohol addiction. The aspect of environment and social factors are also considered as possible cause of alcoholism of alcohol addiction (Ciubara et al, 2015).
Recent studies also show that co-occurrence of various brain disorder and alcohol addiction is also possible (Cui et al., 2013). Individuals who became depressed of their mental condition or individuals suffering from brain disorder such as anxiety and depression are prone to alcohol addiction. Alcohol could became their outlet of their problems which is the reason why they have high risk of developing alcohol addiction (Barker & Taylor, 2014).
Signs and Symptoms
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction could be diagnosed through several unusual behaviors (Barker & Taylor, 2014). Some of these behaviors include having relatively high tolerance to alcohol, usual drinking alone and unable to stop or control consuming alcoholic drinks. The person which are diagnosed with alcohol addiction also have problems controlling themselves with regards to hygiene. In most cases, individuals who have alcohol addiction problems continue to consume alcohol whenever there are social and economic problems (Cui et al., 2013). Physical symptoms are also present for individuals who have alcohol addiction. Most individuals who have alcohol addiction usually forget what happened during heavy drinking session. Other physical symptoms could also be recognized such as common tremor, nausea and shaking even if the individual did not consume any alcoholic drinks and development of alcoholic ketoacidosis.
The prevalence of alcohol addiction in the United States are presented by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) which is a part of the National Institute of Health (NIH). The alcohol use in the United States is very high. According to the statistics, almost 85 % of individuals with age 18 years and older have already consume an alcoholic drink at some point in their life. With regards to alcohol addiction, the NIAAA reported that there are already 16 million individuals age 18 years and older have a condition known as alcohol use disorder. Almost 2/3 of these cases are men. There are also about 88,000 people die because of alcohol related cases such as accidents and alcoholism (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, n.d.).
The treatment method of alcoholism involves combinations of counseling, medication and withdrawal methods. For mild symptoms of alcoholism, patients are usually advised to have detoxification or withdrawal methods. It is the process where alcohol level in the body is reduced though proper diet and abstinence to alcoholic drinks. Rehabilitation is also one of the key method for treating alcohol addiction. Emotional support and counseling is also a critical part of the treatment method of alcoholism. The intervention method of patients with alcoholism should consider addressing the patient’s emotional problem (Barker & Taylor, 2014). The health care personnel should advice another method of solving the patient’s problem aside from drinking alcohol.
There are also medical treatment or medication which could be helpful in helping patients with alcoholism. Some of the medications used to treat alcoholism includes naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram (Cui et al., 2013). These drugs or medication could help in restoring the chemical functions of the brain. It could also help in causing discomfort for patients every time they consume an alcoholic drink.
Barker, J., & Taylor, J. (2014). Habitual alcohol seeking: Modeling the transition from casual drinking to addiction. Neuroscience & Biobehaviorals Review, 47(1), 281-294
Ciubara, A., et al. (2015). Alcohol addiction – a psychosocial perspective. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Science, 187(1), 536-540.
Cui, C. et al. (2013). New insights on neurobiological mechanism underlying alcohol addiction. Neuropharmacology, 67(1), 223-232
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol Facts and Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics