Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) consists of four symptoms:
- Craving: a strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
- Loss of control: the inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
- Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Serious dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, starting eight to twelve hours after the last drink. The delirium tremens (D.T.’s) begins three to four days later where the person becomes extremely agitated, shakes, hallucinates and loses touch with reality.
- Tolerance: the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get high.
An increasingly heavy drinker often says he could stop whenever he chooses—he just never “chooses” to do so. Alcoholism is not a destination, but a progression, a long road of deterioration in which life continuously worsens.
“When I went to quit drinking, I realized that alcohol had taken to my body in such a way that I couldn’t stop. I would shake like I was going to break, I would start to sweat, I couldn’t think until I had another drink. I couldn’t function without it.
“I spent the next 8 years in and out of detox and hospitals, trying to figure out what happened to me, how was it possible I couldn’t quit. It was the worst and longest nightmare.” —Jan
Binge drinking is the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session, usually defined as five or more drinks at one time for a man, or four or more drinks at one time for a woman.
About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
“I binge drink every chance I get and to be honest I am disgusted with myself, but I cannot control my desire to do it…. If I drink too much or drink certain drinks, I get breathless and go blotchy all over my body, but I continue to drink until I am so exhausted I fall asleep…. I am not sure that I am strong enough to quit my stupidity.” —Allen
Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15- to 24-year-olds: accidents, homicides and suicides.
- Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and fifty times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink. One survey found that 32% of the heavy drinkers over 12 were also illegal drug users.
- In 2005, 6.6% of the US population aged 12 or older, or 16 million people, reported heavy drinking (binge drinking on at least five days of the past thirty days).
- Of the 3.9 million Americans who received treatment for a substance abuse problem in 2005, 2.5 million of them were treated for alcohol use.
- Alcohol-related traffic deaths in the US were 12,998 in 2007. This is more than three times as many American soldiers who died in combat in the first six years of the Iraq war.
- There are 1.4 million drunk driving arrests in the US every year.
- A US Department of Justice study found that as many as 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol.
- In 2005–2006, there were 187,640 National Health System alcohol-related hospital admissions in England.
- There were 6,570 deaths in England in 2005 from causes directly linked to alcohol use. In 2006, alcohol-related deaths in England rose to 8,758. This amounts to an annual increase of 7% from the previous year.
- According to one study, of the 490 million people in the European Union, more than 23 million are dependent on alcohol.
- In Europe, alcohol contributes to nearly one in ten of all cases of illness and premature deaths each year.
- 39% of all traffic deaths involved alcohol in 2005.
40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol.
SOURCE: DRUG FREE WORLD