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Why Is Alcoholism Considered a Progressive Disease?

a hand holds an empty bottle of wine, why is alcoholism considered a progressive disease?

Why is alcoholism considered a progressive disease? It’s important to understand that alcoholism is not a choice or a moral failing, but rather a chronic disease. This means that it is progressive in nature, meaning that it gets worse over time if left untreated. Call The Canyon today at 424.465.5182 if you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol misuse. Our substance abuse treatment can help.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control or cease alcohol consumption despite its negative effects on an individual’s health, relationships, and obligations. It is not merely a lack of willpower but a complex interplay of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to its development and progression.

Because alcohol is a socially acceptable and widely available substance, it can be difficult to recognize when someone has crossed the line from moderate drinking to problem drinking. However, once an individual becomes dependent on alcohol, they may experience intense cravings and tolerance. This is a hallmark of addiction.

Alcohol Use Disorder vs. Alcoholism

While the terms Alcohol Use Disorder and alcoholism are often used interchangeably, they differ slightly. AUD is a medical diagnosis encompassing issues ranging from mild to severe, the latter category often equated with alcoholism. Individuals with alcoholism typically have a physical dependence on alcohol, experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, and require increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects.

Signs of Alcoholism

Recognizing the signs of alcoholism is crucial in seeking help. These signs can include behavioral changes such as:

  • Prioritizing drinking over responsibilities
  • Increased secrecy
  • Social withdrawal

Physical symptoms may encompass:

  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate

Psychological signs can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability, especially when alcohol is not available

If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to severe medical consequences such as liver disease, heart problems, and even death.

Why Is Alcoholism Considered a Progressive Disease?

Why is alcoholism considered a progressive disease? Alcoholism is considered a progressive disease because without intervention and substance abuse treatment, it tends to worsen over time. Initially, individuals may be able to function relatively normally while drinking heavily. Over time, however, they may start to experience more severe consequences, such as:

  • Health problems
  • Strained relationships
  • Issues at work or school

The progression of alcoholism often follows a predictable path, from occasional heavy drinking to increased tolerance, physical dependence, and eventually, addiction. As the disease progresses, the risks of serious health complications, including liver disease, heart problems, and neurological damage, increase significantly.

How Does Alcoholism Progress?

Alcoholism progresses in stages, from early-stage problem drinking to severe alcoholism. These stages are:

Pre-Alcoholic Stage

Occasional binge drinking or heavy drinking, often seen in college students or young adults.

Early Alcoholic Stage

Increased tolerance and dependence on alcohol to function, as well as denial of the extent of their drinking.

Middle Alcoholic Stage

Loss of control over drinking, increased negative consequences, and potential health effects.

Late Alcoholic Stage

Alcoholism has taken over all aspects of an individual’s life, and they may experience severe physical and mental health complications.

Dangers of Untreated Alcoholism

Untreated alcoholism can have devastating consequences for both the individual and those around them. It can lead to:

  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries
  • Legal problems, including DUIs or domestic violence charges
  • Financial issues due to job loss or inability to meet financial obligations

Additionally, individuals with untreated alcoholism are also at a higher risk for co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Seeking Help for Alcoholism

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol misuse, it is crucial to seek help. The Canyon offers comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs that address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of alcoholism. We focus on helping clients develop coping skills for dealing with cravings and triggers, rebuilding damaged relationships, and creating a supportive environment for recovery.

Call The Canyon Today to Heal from Alcoholism

It’s never too late to seek help for alcoholism. Contact The Canyon today at 424.465.5182 or reach out online to learn more about our treatment options. Start your journey towards a healthier, happier life free from alcohol addiction. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.