Although alcoholism does not have the symptoms of a normal disease, it can be called a mental or a psychological disorder. It all starts with getting obsessed with the idea of drinking. The mental obsession which drives a person to repeatedly drink is nothing but a thought process over which there is no control.
The thought process repeatedly occurs in the brain driving the person to fix a drink. The person is unable to get over the physical compulsion and craving to have a drink. Since man does not consciously put the thought in his mind, he is not able to control the effect and feels the only way to get the thought out is to do what his mind says.
The most difficult part of all this is that most of the times, the alcoholic does not even know the thought is there hidden in his mind surfacing repeatedly. He is not able to understand what is driving him towards this undesirable habit. This is why even if an alcoholic genuinely puts in effort to stop drinking and wants to give up the habit he is not able to do so without professional help.
One important fact to be noticed is that alcoholism as a disease progresses very fast without the person’s knowledge. The fact that one or two drinks satisfies his or her craving may soon sub consciously increase to six or seven drinks and worsening further to even ten or twelve drinks. By the time the person realizes it is usually too late. The drinking stops only if the person passes out. By this time alcohol has wholly and completely taken over his or her life.
Rehabilitation and help is in the hands of the affected person. If he is mentally prepared to come out of the obsession, he can approach one of the innumerable help centres. If he needs help but is not willing to take it, then intervention is the only alternative.
Medical implications of alcoholism
Apart from social and psychological consequences, alcohol dependence leads to a lot of physical health problems. Liver is the most commonly affected organ. Apart from this, alcohol creates problem related to the skin, permanent impotence, appetite loss, vitamin deficiencies, damage of central nervous system, etc.
Alcohol has a significant effect on the functioning of the brain. Consumption of alcohol depresses the central nervous system. With increased consumption, the motor skills get affected and actions start becoming clumsy. Alcohol dependence affects the behavioural pattern of the individual to a great extent. Very acute and prolonged drinking can actually cause damage to the brain.
Positive effects include the decrease in cardiovascular disease due to moderate drinking. This fact has been proved beyond doubt. Especially, the risk of heart related diseases decrease tremendously if alcohol especially red wine is consumed moderately over a period of time.
This is due to the existence of certain polyphenol antioxidants present in red wines which favours the health of the heart. Other benefits of moderate alcohol consumption includes an increase in the HDL or cholesterol which is good for the health, decrease in blood clotting or thrombosis, reduced spasm of artery related to stress, increases the flow of blood in the coronary, increases the sensitivity of insulin, etc.
Moderate drinking also has a positive impact on the progress of coronary heart disease. It actually decreases the risk of CHD. Moderate indicates not more than one or two drinks a day. Moderate drinking has similar positive effects on coronary vascular disease or angina pectoris and also on patients who are on their way to recovery after coronary stenting.
Similarly, moderate drinking has proven to be an aid in the reduction of heart attacks or strokes or even in a person who is recovering from an attack. Alcohol abuse on the other hand increases the risk of a stroke or a heart attack.