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clear Alcoholism as a Disease

Alcoholism is defined by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence as a disease manifesting itself as a lack of ability to control one's drinking often accompanied by distorted thinking patterns such as denial. Basically, alcoholism is considered a disease because those who have it can no longer control their drinking habits. Alcoholism acts as a pathological mental condition, with drinking generally taking on chronic and progressive proportions of a person's life.

People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop the disease themselves. An alcoholic is unable to control drinking, even when the consequences of a drink may be the loss of job, family, health, or life itself. Those who struggle trying to stop drinking have often already lost any self-respect. They often don't even recognize they can't quit until they've lost a job or spouse. All of these consequences are common because alcohol is a drug.

As a drug, alcohol has side effects. Many of these side effects are mental and many are physical. Alcohol can damage the liver, cause nervous system disorders, and interrupt the digestive system. There are some symptoms of alcoholism that we should all be aware of and looking out for in those with whom we work and those we care about. Sneaking drinks, underestimating consumption, and hiding liquor bottles and cans are among the more obvious symptoms. Some of the less recognized symptoms that may occur in combination are mood swings, decrease in appetite, a puffy face, trouble holding onto jobs, increases in traffic violations, and grumpy moods when no alcohol is available.

If you suspect a member of your family is suffering from alcoholism, you need to have a talk with that family member. Keep in mind that alcoholics are often in a state of denial. Also, you might have better fortunes talking to the person when the person is sober. Denial may be less likely if you approach the person immediately after he or she has sobered from an alcohol related incident such as an argument or traffic violation. But don't wait for disaster to strike before you confront a family member. Remember that the effects of alcoholism are felt by every person who comes in contact with the alcoholic. Other members of the family may be just as much in need of talking things out and of getting counseling as the alcoholic.

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