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Alcoholism
Introduction to Psychology II
Ina M. Kamaityt?, Professor
12 December, 2001
Alcoholism
Thousands of years ago people began to make alcohol for practical
reasons. Wine making began with the early Egyptians who found that grape
juise spoiled quickly, but that fermented juise or wine would keep without
spoiling. They also had problems with impure water, and the Egyptians
noticed that people did not sick ower wine, but they often became ill when
they drank inpure water. In later years, wine became inportant to the Roman
Catholic Church throughout Europe because wine was used to celebrate the
sacrament of the Mass. By the 1300’s, beer industry had emerged in Central
Europe. At this time, wine was also continuing to grow in popularity; many
brands named for the places in which they originated. At first alcohol was
desined for the practical reasons, its use changed. People began to
experiment with different types of alcohol. Alcohol became an integral part
of European culture. We need to understand the harmful effects of alcohol,
because it can be fatal.
"Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial,
and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.
The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by
continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with
the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and
distortions in thinking, most notably denial."
(http://www.ncadd.org/facts/defalc.html).
Alcoholism is sometimes characterized by the following elements:
1. Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
2. Loss of control: The frequent inability to stop drinking once a
person has begun.
3. Physical dependence: The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, such as
nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after
a period of heavy drinking. These symptoms are usually relieved by drinking
alcohol or by taking another sedative drug.
4. Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to
get "high.
"Most of the psychologists consider alcoholism as a progressive
disease, when naturally progressing has 3 stages that go one after another.
The transition between those stages is smooth and unnoticeable for a
person. That disease never appears suddenly. You can suddenly get flue,
appendicitis, gonorrhea, or any other disease, but not alcoholism.
First stage is always introduced by pleasant regular “cultural”
drinking that lasts from 1 to 10 years. People predisposed to alcoholism
cover that stage very quickly, sometimes in a several months. So a popular
concept of “cultural” drinking is far not perfect. All alcoholics began
“culturally”. Every person consuming regularly alcohol is in a risk of
becoming an alcoholic.
Only total sobriety (non-drinking) can stop this disease. But even if
a person after giving up drinking gets in use of alcohol just sometimes,
the disease will steadily progress. Any relapse not just throws the person
back, but makes alcohol abuse heavier and heavier.
First stage:
A person likes drinking, but doesn’t really know how to drink. Feeling
attraction to the alcohol drinks not to the point and without measure.
Being drunk can make some “bad” things. Psychologists call it “the loss of
situational and measure control”. The “health” in the morning is
satisfactory, no need in a hangover yet. Amnesias begin appearing. The
person is not a professional yet, but already a high-degree amateur. As a
rule nobody gives up drinking on that stage, as the overall health is still
good. First stage lasts for several years, the transition to the second
stage is almost unavoidable.
Second stage:
The “alcohol dependence syndrome” is added to the symptoms of the
first stage. In not severe cases an alcoholic can endure to the evening and
“improve” his health only after his work. The second stage of dependence
begins when an alcoholic can’t already wait till the evening and cures a
hangover at the midday
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