What is Alcoholism? What is an Alcoholic?

“My name is Australia and I’m an alcoholic.” This is the title of a recent opinion article from the Sydney Morning Harold. Many countries, like Australia, have a high rate of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Australia is not alone in this distinction. There are many persons throughout the world who are ‘alcoholics,’ i.e., they have a clinical condition called alcohol dependency, which is another name for alcoholism. An alcoholic is a person who suffers from alcoholism. A person can still have major problems with alcohol even when not meeting the official diagnostic criteria of alcohol dependency (alcoholism). In this case, the person’s problem may be classified as ‘alcohol abuse.’

Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The American Psychiatric Association has delineated criteria for diagnoses of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency (alcoholism).

Alcohol Abuse— a pattern of drinking alcohol that results in one or more of the following within a 12-month period:

* failure to fulfill major role obligations, e.g., at work, school, or home
* recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving)
* recurrent alcohol-related legal consequences
* interpersonal/social problems

Alcohol Dependence— a pattern of drinking alcohol that results in three of seven of the following within a 12-month period:

* tolerance
* withdrawal when suddenly stopping drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use
* drinking more than was intended, as well as time spent drinking
* unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use
* spending a great deal of time obtaining and drinking alcohol, and recovering from its effects
* sacrificing activities in order to drink
* drinking alcohol continues despite recurrent physical or psychological problems related to use

Two added factors for alcoholism (vs. alcohol abuse) are tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance simply means more and more quantity of alcohol is needed to get intoxicated. If a person has a physical dependence on alcohol, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms when suddenly stopping drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use.

The use of the term alcohol addiction is sometimes also used, meaning the person can’t control, cut down or stop using, even when drinking alcohol is negatively impacting his life. One does not have to be physically dependent on alcohol to have an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and Addiction Treatment

No matter what the classification—alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or addiction—people with a problem with alcohol have a difficult time controlling their use (drinking moderately) or stopping altogether (abstinence). This is when professional help is needed. For many, stopping drinking alcohol completely is simply the best solution:

“Research on whether those who have had drinking problems can return to normal drinking patterns shows several things. For one, the longer and more problematic the drinking is, the less likely moderation becomes, though even here there is a tiny minority who do attain it. Second, moderation among long-term heavy drinkers is more difficult to achieve and maintain than abstinence is…. Abstinence is without question the least risky option: If you don’t drink, you can’t have alcohol-related problems, period.”
(From Recovery Options: The Complete Guide (2000) by Joseph Volpicelli, M.D., Ph.D.and Maia Szalavitz)

Getting Professional Help for Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and Alcohol Addiction

As stated above, people with a problem with alcohol have a difficult time controlling their drinking or stopping altogether—and professional help is needed. Drug & Alcohol Rehab Asia offers a high quality inpatient treatment program in a discreet, luxurious setting. We are located on a beautiful tropical island on the east side of Thailand. Our program is a holistic, non-12 step program which utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as its foundational therapeutic approach. In addition to CBT individual and group counseling, our program incorporates personal physical training, water workout in our beautiful pool, group education sessions, art therapy, stress management, meditation, relapse prevention, island excursions (as well as other social activities), detox (when needed), and aftercare.

For more information about our program components, our therapy philosophy, and our great facilities and location, please browse around our website and call us at +66871407788, or email us at info@alcoholrehab.com.

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