Is Alcoholism a Disease or Choice?

Do people actually have a choice as they spiral toward alcoholism? This raging debate has produced much documentation over the past several years, supporting both sides, but understanding where the medical community falls on this issue may provide some light.

A Closer Look

The American Medical Association considers alcoholism a chronic disease that is influenced by a number of outside factors. The DSM-III goes as far as to classify it as a mental illness with symptoms that range from the mental to the emotional and behavioral.

What It Looks Like

If you’re not sure what real alcoholism looks like, you may want to review. Any of the following symptoms can be involved as the disease progresses: poor reflexes and balance, slurring speech, intestinal difficulty or pain, loss of consciousness. Alcohol poisoning can occur if an individual drinks too much at once, and in the long term, the abdominal cavity can begin filling with fluid as the liver becomes compromised. Damage to the nervous system, heart, and brain can occur as well.

Besides the physical symptoms, though, there are a number of other signs an individual may be suffering from alcoholism. He or she may begin to neglect responsibilities, display anger with physical violence, engage in risk-taking behavior, or generally be unable to control drinking.

Help Is Out There

Alcoholism is a disease, and like any other, it needs treatment sooner rather than later. Simply going cold turkey isn’t a good idea. It can be difficult and result in withdrawal, which may create tremors, sweating, vomiting, anxiety, and even seizures. Getting real help right now is important. Working with a qualified health team to help through the detox process is an absolute must, as it’s a far safer choice than simply trying to tackle it on your own.

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