Alcoholism is a disease that affects all aspects of a person’s life. One of the reasons that alcoholism and/or addiction is categorized as a disease is that it has all of the following characteristics of diseases.
Alcoholism is the Primary Cause of the Problems
When a person is addicted to alcohol, he/she begins to have a lot of problems that are caused by the addiction. For most alcoholics, these problems go away when they get sober and enter into recovery. (It is important to note, that some people have both alcoholism and mental health issues. When this occurs, both issues must be addressed in order to ensure appropriate recovery and lasting sobriety.) Some of the areas that are frequently affected by alcoholism include:
- Change in Personality – Alcoholics frequently begin to experience significant personality changes when they are drinking. Some may become “happy drunks”, while others may become “mean drunks” or simply withdraw. The person you “used to know” before they became addicted begins to disappear in front of you as they drink.
- Change in Values – Alcoholics frequently lie to cover up the amount and frequency of their drinking. A person who normally would be honest begins to be able to “look you in the eyes” and lie to you when they become addicted. Most alcoholics lie in order to protect their access to alcohol. Anyone or anything that threatens their ability to use is seen as the problem.
- Change in Moods – Alcoholics can be very moody. This often occurs because of the feelings of shame they experience because of their addiction. To hide their shame, they may become defensive and start blaming those around them for all of the problems. In fact, alcoholics frequently become angry when they are confronted about their drinking or changes in behavior.
- Change in Relationships – The first place where the effects of alcoholism appear is in relationships. The lying, mood changes, withdrawal, and personality changes all take a toll on relationships. Many marriages, families, and relationships are torn apart because of the disease of alcoholism.
- Change in Level of Functioning – Alcoholics have trouble maintaining their ability to perform at their previous levels of functioning. They may begin to have legal issues (i.e. DUI) or work performance issues (i.e. tardiness or increase in absences).
- Change in Physical Health – Alcoholism takes a toll on the body. Physical issues include hypertension, heart problems, weight issues, liver failure, and brain damage.
- Change in Spiritual Health – Alcoholics tend to become disconnected from everyone and everything, including their spiritual self.
Alcoholism is Chronic
Once a person has become addicted to alcohol, they will always be an alcoholic. There is no going back to occasional drinking or social drinking.
Alcoholism is Progressive
If left untreated, alcoholism gets worse over time. Alcoholics don’t “grow out of it” or “go through a phase” of overdrinking. The disease of addiction progresses something like this:
- Stage 1 – Live and Use
- Stage 2 – Use and Live
- Stage 3 – Live to use
- Stage 4 – Use to live
Alcoholism is Fatal – Because alcoholism is progressive and chronic, if left untreated, it does lead to death. Death may come quickly via a motor vehicle accident or slowly as the body wears down.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse, New Dimensions can help.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.