Alcoholism refers to the drinking of alcoholic beverages to such a degree that important things in an individual’s life, such as work, school, family relationships, or personal safety and health, are seriously and repeatedly interfered with. Alcoholism is considered a disease, meaning that it follows a characteristic course with known physical and social symptoms. The alcoholic continues to consume alcohol even though they may face destructive consequences. Alcoholism is serious and a very difficult habit to break.
If not treated, alcoholism may become a habit that cannot be broken or even a fatal problem. It is generally believed that once the disease has developed, the alcoholic will not be able to drink normally again. It is important to note that the symptoms and patterns of drinking problems may vary among individuals. Alcoholism is a complex disorder, which has led some researchers to question its accuracy as a disease.
There are generally four basic types of alcoholism. The first type is called Alpha Alcoholism. It is purely psychological dependence on alcohol (Haskins, 84). With Alpha Alcoholism, the person depends on alcohol to relieve bodily and emotional pain. This stage, and all stages, are serious in teen drinking because any alcohol intake is dangerous for teens still developing mentally and physically.
Another term for this alcoholic behavior is often called problem drinking.” The second type of alcoholic behavior is called Beta Alcoholism. It does not involve either psychological or physical dependence on alcohol. However, it is worse for your body than Alpha Alcoholism because heavy drinking may lead to ulcers, cirrhosis of the liver, nerve damage, and kidney problems (Haskins, 85).
Beta alcoholics have a shortened life expectancy and suffer from financial and emotional demands due to excessive overdrinking. Just like smoking, alcoholism costs money, and the demand for alcohol can lead to pinching every penny just to get one more drink. The third drinking behavior is Gamma Alcoholism, in which the alcoholic becomes physically dependent on liquor. This means that the body’s tissues become tolerant to the new substance and immune to it, and the body tissue needs the constant presence of alcohol. Gamma alcoholics crave alcohol but can only live without it for a short period of time.
If the Gamma alcoholic does not get their alcohol, their body reacts very violently. Gamma alcoholism is one of the most common types of alcoholism in the United States. The fourth type of alcoholism is Delta Alcoholism. In Delta alcoholism, the drinker cannot stay away from liquor for even a day or two without suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Usually, this type of alcoholism is found where alcohol is drunk customarily.
Addiction to alcohol is very much like addiction to heroin. Alcoholism is a very tough habit to break. Many people who have been classified as alcoholics can never have a normal life again. Teenagers who are alcoholics are much more easily disturbed than adult alcoholics. In the near past, the United States has been experiencing a widespread use of alcohol by teenagers (Haskins, 40). Today, there are some 500,000 alcoholics between the ages of ten and nineteen, and it is estimated that one of every fifteen young people today will eventually become an alcoholic (Haskins, 42). Teens drink out of curiosity and to act like adults. Not only that, but peer pressure and the desire to look cool in front of friends also play a role.
Parents are a strong influence on teenagers to not drink or limit the use of alcohol by young people, as statistics show. If none of the parents in the United States drank, then neither would most of their children (Haskins, 105). Teenage drinking is becoming more prevalent among younger age groups, with alcohol problems now being found in nine-, ten-, and twelve-year-olds (Haskins, 91).
- Haskins, Jim. Teen-age Alcoholism. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1976.
- Health Care