Alcoholism

Alcoholism

Alcoholism

Alcoholism

Synopsis

"Alcoholism" tells the story of a disease familiar to many yet not well understood. It is the first "biography" of alcohol abuse that gauges its devastating effects on the body, the family, the economy, and the community.

"Alcoholism" provides the latest understanding of the disease as a behavioral dysfunction and a biological condition. Coverage includes the origins of alcohol and the discovery of alcoholism as a medical disease; the biology of alcoholism and its effects on the body; and current diagnostic and treatment methods for alcoholism. In addition, the book explores the effects on society of such alcoholism-related problems as domestic abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, drunk driving, and suicide, as well as promising new directions in alcoholism research, awareness, treatment, and prevention.

Excerpt

Throughout history, the moral condemnation of excessive alcohol use has run a parallel course to more acceptable forms of drinking. On one hand, religious leaders, temperance organizations, or recovery groups may devote considerable efforts to curbing alcohol use. On the other hand, others may see drinking as a normal or even healthy part of meals, celebrations, or religious ceremonies. In most people’s minds, alcohol consumption itself is not disapproved of, but drinking to excess is usually seen as foolish, weak, or sinful.

Most characterizations of drunkenness have historically been unflattering, with all major world religions cautioning against the perils of heavy drinking to some degree. Many temperance movements viewed all forms of drinking as unacceptable, with even the most casual alcohol consumption leading inevitably to social ills like crime, poverty, and abandonment. Drinking was seen more as a moral weakness rather than a physical illness or physiological disorder. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that the theory of alcoholism as a disease became more accepted by the scientific community, with the World Health Organization defining alcoholism as one of a group of “dependence syndromes,” in which the drinker has a relationship with alcohol by way of “impaired control over its use, persistent use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and a physical withdrawal reaction when drug use is discontinued.” Simply said, impaired control implies an involuntary state of addiction, not a moral weakness.

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