Alcoholism - What is it?

Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterized by a destructive pattern of alcohol use. People who suffer from alcoholism are extremely preoccupied with the substance, continue drinking even when it causes social or relationship problems, and are unable to drink in moderation. Alcoholics spend large amounts of time and money obtaining, using, and recovering from the abuse of alcohol.

Alcoholism Statistics

Over 14 million Americans suffer from alcoholism. Research shows that approximately four percent of women and 10 percent of men are alcoholics. Alcohol addiction is the third most commonly diagnosed mental illness.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol abuse is defined as any harmful use of the substance. The term "harmful use" refers to anything that results in either physical or mental damage. Those who abuse it continue to drink despite negative social, interpersonal, and legal consequences.

Alcoholics exhibit all the same characteristics of alcohol abusers, but will also exhibit some or all of the following signs of dependence:

  • Preferring only one type or brand of alcoholic beverage
  • Constantly seeking out the substance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Persistent and recurrent cravings for alcohol
  • Needing to drink increasing amounts of it to achieve the same effect

Signs of Alcoholism

Signs of alcohol dependence include:

  • Spending inordinate amounts of time drinking or recovering from drinking
  • Giving up normal habits and activities so you can drink
  • Feeling guilty after drinking
  • Drinking in the morning
  • Making excuses for your drinking
  • Drinking alone

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is often a progressive disease, and early physical symptoms can be mild. As addiction worsens, more severe physical symptoms may develop. Such symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Redness or swelling of the palms
  • Gastritis (upset stomach)
  • Unsteady balance
  • Cirrhosis
  • Skin sores (abscesses)
  • Lower sex drive; impotence

Alcohol Intervention

Most alcoholics are reluctant to seek help on their own. An intervention can help friends and family get their loved one the help they need. A consultation with a professional interventionist or addiction counselor at one of the available Drug Treatment Centers in Erie can help you organize the best strategy for an intervention. They are available to guide you through ever step from help with mediation to the admissions process. Because interventions can be highly emotional, interventionists serve as a stable and rational source of support and information for both the addict and the family members.

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox is a medically-supervised program of withdrawal. Because withdrawal from this substance can produce uncomfortable or painful effects, it is not recommended that anyone detox on their own. The majority of Erie Drug Rehab Treatment Centers provide each patient with the necessary, around-the-clock medical supervision required. Because withdrawal symptoms can be so unpredictable, some patients may require medication to control the pain. Medical professionals that work at these facilities are authorized administer medications - such as Naltrexone or Acamprostate - to help curb cravings and ease any uncomfortable symptoms.

Alcoholism Treatment Programs

Recovering from alcohol addiction requires ongoing therapy as well as aftercare to prevent relapse. Many Drug Treatment Centers in Erie, provide both alcohol detox and alcohol rehabilitation programs on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Residential rehabilitation programs take place within the facilities, and can last from one month to two months. In addition, these centers offer therapy for individuals and families, as well as group support. Other good options available are the relapse prevention programs, and alternative therapies, which help patients heal and focus on a new lifestyle away from drugs and alcohol. 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are also effective in helping alcoholics stay sober, and provide patients with the resources they need to find meetings in their area.


Approximately 90 % of alcoholics will have one or more relapses in the four years following treatment for alcohol addiction. Support groups, therapy, and continuing care are necessary to prevent relapse. To prevent relapse, alcoholics must meet periodically with a counselor or a group and practice the prevention skills they acquired during treatment. As alcoholism is a chronic disease, it's important for the recovering addict to continue to manage his or her own recovery after treatment has ended. This can also be done through a sober living community, which helps them in the transition back to everyday life after rehab.

The representatives at Alcoholism Treatment Centers Erie can help you find the right rehab facility and treatment program for you needs. Call 814-651-9437 today.

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