Alcoholism Fast Facts

Drinking in the home leaves anger and injury in its wake. When there is violence, more than 60% of the wives are injured. In at least 85% of the situations, someone was drinking. Researchers have found that wives feel anxious, depressed, and have low self-esteem. As a whole, the family shares anger, fear, shame, isolation, and grief.

Binge drinking can harm a developing brain; numerous imaging studies have shown that some developing brain regions will lose gray matter, containing the brain’s cells and synapses, due to a toxin like alcohol.

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In the U.S., 15.1 million adults in 2015 were considered alcohol abusers, about a million more than in 1996.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol dependency (also sometimes called alcohol use disorder) is an addiction to alcohol that negatively impacts the user and those around them. Persons with this disease cannot stop drinking. They cannot drink in moderation. If left untreated, alcoholism can become deadly.

What Causes Alcoholism?

Researchers have not been able to prove that the underlying cause of alcoholism is nurture or nature. However, studies have identified some risk factors, including a list of mental illnesses that often coincide with alcohol use disorder.

Many alcoholics who have long-term sobriety have come to believe that it doesn’t matter. That’s because getting involved in a “blame game” is simply a diversion. It’s a common diversion used by many alcoholics to avoid admitting they’re an alcoholic.

Virtually every alcoholic plays a game of denial. It’s not uncommon for these denial games to last for decades. As long as the denial game goes on, the alcoholic avoids taking responsibility for their alcoholism. Until an alcoholic admits they have a problem with alcohol and their life has become unmanageable, there is virtually no hope treatment will work.

Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

Persons who have long-term sobriety often say the heritability argument is a diversion. Children pick up habits from parents, such as excessive drinking. Research shows that some children are attracted to a parent’s drinking, while others are repelled by it. Studies have found genetic factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

The “blame game” doesn’t solve the problem for the suffering alcoholic.

Alcoholism can be linked to anyone in your family: children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.  Please donate generously to the education and research projects whose cures will break this chain. Do your part to protect your loved ones.  Give your family hope.

How Is Alcoholism Detected?

Alcoholism is an ecumenical disease. Some people start alcoholic drinking when they’re young children. Others begin when they are grandparents. Social position, education, and status can’t predict who will become an alcoholic. Some experts believe that about one out every six people have become an alcoholic since the beginning of time.

In the early stages, relatives and friends may notice several things. The individual becomes sneaky and secretive. They may “sneak” drinks. The person changes and displays antisocial behavior and acts-out against authority figures.

How Is Alcoholism Diagnosed?

A Supreme Court Judge, Potter Stewart, once said about pornography, “It’s hard to define, but everyone knows it when they see it.” The same can be said about alcoholism. You don’t have to have a PhD to spot it.

However, clinical diagnosis of alcohol use disorder typically requires a medical doctor’s physical examination, evaluation by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, and sometimes laboratory or imaging tests.

That said, some individuals hide their alcoholism very well, even for extended periods. These individuals are referred to as called functioning alcoholics. Literature is full of examples. Many people have friends and relatives who are functioning alcoholics. The problem is they are ticking time bombs.


How Is Alcoholism Treated?

It’s a surprise to many people that, at present, the only cure for an alcoholic is to stop drinking. There are no pills or magic potions that can cure alcoholism. Sadly, relatives and friends are probably in the worst position to help. Tragically, many alcoholics crash and burn and lose everything before they begin to acknowledge they might have a problem with alcohol.

Ironically, many professionals and alcoholics with long-term sobriety feel they are not at fault. The underlying science is complicated, but in simple terms, a person often starts to drink to solve a problem. After a while, the drink becomes the problem — because it escalates into addiction and becomes impossible to stop. It’s like a beautiful innocent children’s carousel that, over time, speeds up and becomes uncontrollable.

It should be noted that a person suffering from alcoholism does not respond to logical arguments such as: “Why don’t you just stop drinking, don’t you see you’re killing yourself.”

Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions of alcoholics gain sobriety and keep it. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it has the best batting average of any treatment or cure. AA has its own publications on alcoholism. They are available in most libraries and on-line.

Other treatment options for alcohol use disorder include:

  • Rehabilitation or detoxification programs
  • Psychotherapy or counseling
  • Medications to manage cravings for alcohol

At present, there are no pills and magic potions to cure alcoholism. Several major Universities are working on breakthrough research that is showing promise. Your donations help support this research.

How Does Alcoholism Progress?

A hallmark for alcoholism is that over time, ever-increasing amounts of alcohol will not satisfy the craving to have even more alcohol. Alcoholism is a progressive disease with both short- and long-term adverse health impacts. When left untreated, it is likely to kill the alcoholic.

How Do I Prevent Alcoholism?

It’s sad but true; there is no easy way to prevent a person from becoming an alcoholic.

The stark facts are: Whether a person grows up on a park bench or Park Avenue, the odds are that about one out of six people will become an alcoholic. Alcoholism is truly an ecumenical disease.

Alcoholism Caregiver Tips

If you wind up caring for an alcoholic, you’re going to need help yourself. An excellent place to start is in your local library and/or online. Because caring for alcoholics is a common occupation, there are local support groups in virtually every town. They are called “Al-Anon” groups. They have their own literature and books specific to this topic.

Many people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) also suffer from other brain and mental health-related issues, a condition called co-morbidity. Here are a few of the disorders commonly associated with AUD:

Alcoholism Brain Science

Clinical has hundreds of trials listed on its site that involve alcohol dependence. One of these trials is testing a hallucinogen called psilocybin, a mushroom derivative, against a control, a known allergy medication called diphenhydramine.  This trial will be blinded to all 180 participants, meaning that trial investigators and participants will not know who has taken what substance, is designed for various outcomes, including how they react short-term to variable amounts of psilocybin. Investigators, who include New York University Langone Medical Center, also want to evaluate patients’ drinking before and after receiving the hallucinogen. Your donations help support this research.

Alcoholism Research

The United Brain Association proudly champions and supports Alcoholism research. We diligently vet each research project to ensure we are selecting research with the most promising outcomes.

Highlighted Project

A Double-Blind Trial of Psilocybin-Assisted Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

Michael P. Bogenschutz, MD

 This project seeks to measure the effectiveness of psilocybin, the active ingredient in many types of hallucinogenic mushrooms, in the treatment of alcoholism. Hallucinogenic drugs can make users see, hear, feel, taste, and/or smell something that is not real. In some cases, it appears that the hallucinogenic experience may help alcohol-dependent patients to control their drinking.

You Are Not Alone

For you or a loved one to be diagnosed with a brain or mental health-related illness or disorder is overwhelming, and leads to a quest for support and answers to important questions. UBA has built a safe, caring and compassionate community for you to share your journey, connect with others in similar situations, learn about breakthroughs, and to simply find comfort.

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We have a close relationship with researchers working on an array of brain and mental health-related issues and disorders.  We keep abreast with cutting-edge research projects and fund those with the greatest insight and promise.  Please donate generously today; help make a difference for your loved ones, now and in their future.                                                                 

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