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Medical condition Alcoholism Other names Alcohol addiction, alcohol dependence syndrome, alcohol use disorder (AUD) A French temperance organisation poster depicting the effects of alcoholism in a family, c. 1915 Specialty Psychiatry, clinical psychology, toxicology, addiction medicine Symptoms Drinking large amounts of alcohol over a long period, difficulty cutting down, acquiring and ...
- Alcoholism Causes Many Problems
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Being an alcoholic does not mean that a person just drinks a lot of alcohol. It means that they cannot control how much alcohol they drink. No matter how badly they want to, once they take one drink, they cannot stop drinking. To be diagnosed with alcoholism, a person has to have three of these symptomsin the past year: 1. They feel like they have to drink alcohol. 2. They cannot control when they start. drinking; when they stop drinking; or how much they drink. 3. They get alcohol withdrawalsymptoms when they stop drinking. 4. They have to drink more and more alcohol to feel drunk (this is called tolerance). 5. They spend less time doing things they used to enjoy, because they are spending so much time drinking. They spend a lot of time getting alcohol, drinking alcohol, or feeling sick from drinking too much. 6. They keep drinking even though they know it is causing serious problems in their life. 7. Drinking or being sick from drinking interfered with work, family responsibilitie...
Problems in the body
Alcoholism can cause many health problems. For example, it can cause: 1. Brain damage 2. Liver disease (like cirrhosis) and liver failure 3. Many types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophageal, breast, and liver cancers 4. Heart problems, including a weak heart muscle; abnormal heartbeat; high blood pressure; and stroke 5. Problems with the pancreas 6. A weak immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight off diseases 7. Depression and anxiety 8. Deaths from drunk driving ac...
Problems in life
Alcoholism can also cause many problems in alcoholics' lives. These include: 1. Not doing well at school or work 2. Having family problems 3. Not having enough money, because the alcoholic is spending so much money on alcohol 4. Being unemployed 5. Abusing or neglectingtheir children 6. Abusing their wives or husbands 7. Living in poverty or being homeless 8. Unplanned pregnancy 9. Financial instability
If an alcoholic stops drinking suddenly, they can get alcohol withdrawal. The most serious form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (often called "DTs"). Delirium tremens is a medical emergency. Many people who get the DTs die from them. This does not mean that alcoholics should not stop drinking. It means that alcoholics should talk to a doctor or go to a hospital before they stop drinking. Doctors can give medicationsto make sure that a person is safe while they stop drinking.
In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there were 208 million people with alcoholism around the world. (This is 4.1% of the world's population over age 15.) In 2001, the WHO estimated that there were about 140 million alcoholics around the world.This means that in the nine years between 2001 and 2010, about 68 million people became alcoholics.Fact sheets about alcohol (from the United States Centers for Disease Control)
The modern disease theory of alcoholism states that problem drinking is sometimes caused by a disease of the brain, characterized by altered brain structure and function. The largest association of physicians - the American Medical Association declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956. In 1991, the AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.
Alcoholism is a braid term fir proablems wae alcohol, an generally is uist tae mean compulsive an uncontrollable consumpt o alcoholic drink, mair awften than no tae the detriment o the drinker's ane weel bein, persoanl relationships, an social staundin. It is medically considert tae be an ailment, specifically an addictive illness, an in psychiatry sevral ither terms ir uised an aa, specifically "alcohol abuse" an "alcohol dependence," which differ in lik bi definition. 
- The Big Book, The Twelve Steps, and The Twelve Traditions
- Organization and Finances
- Disease Concept of Alcoholism
- Canadian and United States Demographics
- Relationship with Institutions
AA sprang from the Oxford Group, a non-denominational, altruistic movement modeled after first-century Christianity. Some members founded the group to help in maintaining sobriety. "Grouper" Ebby Thacherwas Wilson's former drinking buddy who approached Wilson saying that he had "got religion", was sober, and that Wilson could do the same if he set aside objections to religion and instead formed a personal idea of God, "another power" or "higher power". Feeling a "kinship of common suffering" and, though drunk, Wilson attended his first group gathering. Within days, Wilson admitted himself to the Charles B. Towns Hospital after drinking four beers on the way—the last alcohol he ever drank. Under the care of William Duncan Silkworth (an early benefactor of AA), Wilson's detox included the deliriant belladonna. At the hospital, a despairing Wilson experienced a bright flash of light, which he felt to be God revealing himself.Following his hospital discharge, Wilson joined the Oxford Gr...
To share their method, Wilson and other members wrote the initially-titled book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism, from which AA drew its name. Informally known as "The Big Book" (with its first 164 pages virtually unchanged since the 1939 edition), it suggests a twelve-step program in which members admit that they are powerless over alcohol and need help from a "higher power". They seek guidance and strength through prayer and meditation from God or a Higher Powerof their own understanding; take a moral inventory with care to include resentments; list and become ready to remove character defects; list and make amends to those harmed; continue to take a moral inventory, pray, meditate, and try to help other alcoholics recover. The second half of the book, "Personal Stories" (subject to additions, removal, and retitling in subsequent editions), is made of AA members' redemptive autobiographical sketches. In 1941, intervie...
AA says it is "not organized in the formal or political sense", and Bill Wilson, borrowing the phrase from anarchist theorist Peter Kropotkin, called it a "benign anarchy". In Ireland, Shane Butler said that AA "looks like it couldn't survive as there's no leadership or top-level telling local cumannswhat to do, but it has worked and proved itself extremely robust". Butler explained that "AA's 'inverted pyramid' style of governance has helped it to avoid many of the pitfalls that political and religious institutions have encountered since it was established here in 1946." In 2018, AA counted 2,087,840 members and 120,300 AA groups worldwide.The Twelve Traditions informally guide how individual AA groups function, and the Twelve Concepts for World Service guide how the organization is structured globally. A member who accepts a service position or an organizing role is a "trusted servant" with terms rotating and limited, typically lasting three months to two years and determined by g...
AA's program extends beyond abstaining from alcohol. Its goal is to effect enough change in the alcoholic's thinking "to bring about recovery from alcoholism" through "an entire psychic change," or spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening is meant to be achieved by taking the Twelve Steps, and sobriety is furthered by volunteering for AA and regular AA meeting attendance or contact with AA members. Members are encouraged to find an experienced fellow alcoholic, called a sponsor, to help them understand and follow the AA program. The sponsor should preferably have experience of all twelve of the steps, be the same sex as the sponsored person, and refrain from imposing personal views on the sponsored person. Following the helper therapy principle, sponsors in AA may benefit from their relationship with their charges, as "helping behaviors" correlate with increased abstinence and lower probabilities of binge drinking. AA's program is an inheritor of Counter-Enlightenment philosophy....
A study found an association between an increase in attendance at AA meetings with increased spirituality and a decrease in the frequency and intensity of alcohol use. The research also found that AA was effective at helping agnostics and atheists become sober. The authors concluded that though spirituality was an important mechanism of behavioral change for some alcoholics, it was not the only effective mechanism. Since the mid-1970s, several 'agnostic' or 'no-prayer' AA groups have begun across the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world, which hold meetings that adhere to a tradition allowing alcoholics to freely express their doubts or disbelief that spirituality will help their recovery, and these meetings forgo the use of opening or closing prayers.There are online resources listing AA meetings for atheists and agnostics.
More informally than not, AA's membership has helped popularize the disease concept of alcoholism which had appeared in the eighteenth century. Though AA usually avoids the term "disease", 1973 conference-approved literature said "we had the disease of alcoholism."Regardless of official positions, since AA's inception, most members have believed alcoholism to be a disease. AA's Big Book calls alcoholism "an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer." Ernest Kurtz says this is "The closest the book Alcoholics Anonymous comes to a definition of alcoholism." Somewhat divergently in his introduction to The Big Book, non-member and early benefactor William Silkworth said those unable to moderate their drinking suffer from an allergy. In presenting the doctor's postulate, AA said "The doctor's theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanati...
AA's New York General Service Office regularly surveys AA members in North America. Its 2014 survey of over 6,000 members in Canada and the United States concluded that, in North America, AA members who responded to the survey were 62% male and 38% female. Average member sobriety is slightly under 10 years with 36% sober more than ten years, 13% sober from five to ten years, 24% sober from one to five years, and 27% sober less than one year.Before coming to AA, 63% of members received some type of treatment or counseling, such as medical, psychological, or spiritual. After coming to AA, 59% received outside treatment or counseling. Of those members, 84% said that outside help played an important part in their recovery. The same survey showed that AA received 32% of its membership from other members, another 32% from treatment facilities, 30% were self-motivated to attend AA, 12% of its membership from court-ordered attendance, and only 1% of AA members decided to join based on infor...
Studies of AA's efficacy have produced inconsistent results. While some studies have suggested an association between AA attendance and increased abstinence or other positive outcomes,other studies have not. The Surgeon General of the United States 2016 Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health states "Well-supported scientific evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of twelve-step mutual aid groups focused on alcohol and twelve-step facilitation interventions."
Many AA meetings take place in treatment facilities. Carrying the message of AA into hospitals was how the co-founders of AA first remained sober. They discovered great value in working with alcoholics who are still suffering, and that even if the alcoholic they were working with did not stay sober, they did. Bill Wilson wrote, "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics". Bill Wilson visited Towns Hospital in New...
In the United States and Canada, AA meetings are held in hundreds of correctional facilities. The AA General Service Office has published a workbook with detailed recommendations for methods of approaching correctional-facility officials with the intent of developing an in-prison AA program. In addition, AA publishes a variety of pamphlets specifically for the incarcerated alcoholic.Additionally, the AA General Service Office provides a pamphlet with guidelines for members working with incarc...
United States court rulings
United States courts have ruled that inmates, parolees, and probationers cannot be ordered to attend AA. Though AA itself was not deemed a religion, it was ruled that it contained enough religious components (variously described in Griffin v. Coughlin below as, inter alia, "religion", "religious activity", "religious exercise") to make coerced attendance at AA meetings a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the constitution. In 2007, the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Co...
"Thirteenth-stepping" is a pejorative term for AA members approaching new members for dates. A study in the Journal of Addiction Nursing sampled 55 women in AA and found that 35% of these women had experienced a "pass" and 29% had felt seduced at least once in AA settings. This has also happened with new male members who received guidance from older female AA members, in pursuit of sexual company. The authors suggest that both men and women need to be prepared for this behavior or find male-o...
Moderation or abstinence
Stanton Peele argued that some AA groups apply the disease model to all problem drinkers, whether or not they are "full-blown" alcoholics. Along with Nancy Shute, Peele has advocated that besides AA, other options should be readily available to those problem drinkers who can manage their drinking with the right treatment.The Big Book says "moderate drinkers" and "a certain type of hard drinker" can stop or moderate their drinking. The Big Book suggests no program for these drinkers, but inste...
One review of AA warned of detrimental iatrogenic effects of twelve-step philosophy and concluded that AA uses many methods that are also used by cults. A subsequent study concluded, however, that AA's program bore little resemblance to religious cults because the techniques used appeared beneficial. Another study found that the AA program's focus on admission of having a problem increases deviant stigma and strips members of their previous cultural identity, replacing it with the deviant ide...
Jul 19, 2021 · Noun alcoholism (usually uncountable, plural alcoholisms) A chronic disease caused by compulsive and uncontrollable consumption of alcoholic beverages, leading to addiction and deterioration in health and social functioning.