What is alcoholism?
The conception of inveterate drunkenness as a disease appears to be rooted in antiquity. The Roman philosopher Seneca classified it as a form of insanity. The term alcoholism, however, appears first in the classical essay "Alcoholismus Chronicus" (1849) by the Swedish physician Magnus Huss. The phrase chronic alcoholism rapidly became a medical term for the condition of habitual inebriety conceived as a disease; and the bearer of the disease was called an alcoholic or alcoholist (e.g., Italian alcoolisto, French alcoolique, German Alkoholiker, Spanish alcohólico, Swedish alkoholist).
Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, is psychological and/or physical reliance on alcohol. It is one of the most common medical illnesses seen by physicians. If you are dependent on alcohol, you feel or show a need for it when it is stopped. If you crave alcohol, or feel distressed without it, you are said to be psychologically dependent. If you have bodily changes when alcohol is stopped, such as hot and cold flashes and/or tremors, you are said to be physically dependent.
Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterised by continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.
Currently there are three different theories to explain alcoholism:
* Genetic Theory defines alcoholism as the result of a predisposed reaction to alcohol due to chromosomes, genes or hormonal deficiencies.
* Psychological Theory defines alcoholism as a condition that exists in which people have a preset disposition or personality that sets off a reaction to alcohol.
* Sociological Theory defines alcoholism as a learned response and believes that addiction is a result of the influences of society.
Whatever definition or theory is used, it is known that alcoholism is a progressive illness that can be treated. Each alcoholic has a different drinking pattern, but the one thing all alcoholics have in common is an uncontrollable drinking habit.
What are the symptoms?
Alcohol dependence takes many forms, including intermittent drinking, continuous drinking, and binge drinking. Many alcoholics become able to drink ever larger quantities of alcohol before feeling or appearing drunk. Alcohol users commonly medicate themselves with alcohol, using it, often daily, to help them relax, as a confidence booster, or in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioural symptoms of people who are dependent on alcohol may include:
Trying to hide evidence of drinking
Promising to give up drinking
Drinking stronger alcoholic beverages or starting to drink earlier in the day
Having long periods of intoxication
Problems at work
Loss of interest in food
Mood changes (anger, irritability, violent outbursts)
Personality changes (jealousy, paranoia)
Repeatedly driving under the influence
Injuring self or others while intoxicated
Carelessness about appearance
Slower thought processes, lack of concentration, confusion, trouble remembering things
Financial problems caused by drinking.
Physical symptoms may include:
Nausea or shaking in the morning
Poor eating habits
Chronic cramps or diarrhoea
Numbness or tingling sensations
Weakness in the legs and hands
Red eyes, face, and/or palms
Unsteady walking or falls
New and worsening medical problems.
Three distinct stages of alcoholism.
* Early Stage. A person in the early stage of alcoholism uses alcohol as a coping device to relieve tension or escape from problems. The alcoholic must drink more and more to achieve the same effect and has trouble stopping after one drink. The alcoholic makes promises to quit drinking but never follows through.
* Middle Stage. An alcoholic in the middle stage of alcoholism cannot get through the day without alcohol and may need a drink in the morning to overcome the "shakes." The middle-stage alcoholic will begin to manipulate others, lie about drinking, and may drink in secret or hide alcohol. It is harder and harder to get the same effects as tolerance increases. Irregular heart beat, hypertension, loss of appetite, irritability and insomnia are physical and psychological problems at this stage. The alcoholic denies that drinking is a problem.
* Late Stage. The alcoholic now lives to drink and avoids and distrusts others. All ambition is lost and the drinker is unable to cope with responsibility and is often absent from work. A late-stage alcoholic may suffer from reverse tolerance: the brain and liver can no longer tolerate a high level of alcohol, so the drinker becomes impaired after even small amounts of alcohol. Malnutrition, nerve dysfunction, loss of memory, mental confusion, impaired vision, hypertension, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver can occur during this stage. If drinking stops, There are severe withdrawal reactions. Late-stage psychological problems include shame, guilt, severe depression, violent behaviour, low self-esteem, loss of control of emotions, loss of concentration and learning ability. At this point, the alcoholic "hits bottom." The alcoholic may continue to drink despite pain or disability. The only viable alternative is to seek treatment.
Long- term effects of alcohol.
Frequent and prolonged use of alcohol has many detrimental effects on the body. Heavy drinkers develop a tolerance for alcohol, which means that larger amounts of alcohol are needed to get the desired effect. A drinker is physically dependent if withdrawal symptoms are experienced when alcohol use is discontinued abruptly. Symptoms vary but include delirium tremors (the "DTs"), cramps, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, sweating, dilated pupils, sleep problems, irritability and convulsions. Most of these symptoms will subside in two to three days, though irritability and insomnia may last two to three weeks. Psychological dependence occurs when the drinker becomes so preoccupied with alcohol that it is difficult to do without it. Short-term memory loss and blackouts are common among heavy drinkers. A blackout, which is an amnesia-like period often confused with passing out or losing consciousness, results when the drinker appears normal and may function normally; however, the person has no memory of what has taken place. Research indicates that blackouts are associated with advanced stages of alcoholism, and there is a correlation between the extent and duration of alcohol consumption during any given drinking episode and the occurrence of blackouts.
The sooner alcoholism is detected, the better the chances of recovery. There are several effective treatment methods for alcoholism, and what works for one person may not work for another. Many options should be explored when seeking help. Local or state health organisations can be contacted to find out what treatment alternatives exist in each community.
Reasons for choosing the questionnaire as a method of my survey and a sample design.
I chose a questionnaire as a method of a data collection primarily because of the lack of ability (mostly time) to try to conduct an interview. Secondary, I consider the interview to be the inappropriate type of a survey in the case of such a delicate problem as alcoholism. An interview, no matter formal or informal, might provide a large bias I the data, thus in the analysis, because many people may consider it to be undesirable for them to let others know the bare truth about their lives. Moreover, an interview can not be anonymous (at least the interviewer would be initiated in your problems). I also did not manage to avoid an overt participant observation…
As this sociological research is of a small scale (a sample of 36 persons) and was held among the students from one university (HSE), it did not include such complicated (and unnecessary in this case) methods of data collection as a telephone survey or mail survey, the refusals problem was eliminated. Though, just because of the same circumstances, it has a bias of representing only the smallest part of the Russian youth: Moscow students and my research would be more descriptive than analysing.
The multistage sample was conducted in the following way: 4 out 5 specialities were observed (I did not have the access to jurisprudence) and the representatives were chosen by a random sampling (using the table of random digits and student lists) according to a proportion of number of students on each speciality. Thus I have got 14 representatives of the economic speciality, 10- of management, 8- of sociological and 4- of the ICEF.
Considering the fact that I dealt with students, I was not afraid of personal questions. Students, as young and open class of population, are far from being embarrassed when they are asked such.
The list of questions.
1. Your sex:
3. Your speciality?