Alcoholism is undoubtedly the most common addictive disorder among human. Probably, the number of individuals with alcohol addiction (alcoholism) will surpass the number of individuals addicted to other addictive substances (such as cocaine, heroin, and other drugs of abuse), excluding smoking. One good news about cigarette smoking is that, the numbers (absolute numbers as well as the percentage of smokers) of smokers are reducing gradually, although very slowly. But with alcohol addiction, there is no such good sign of reducing the number of alcoholics; in fact the numbers are probably increasing day by day.

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is consumption of alcohol in compulsive and uncontrolled manner, although the alcoholic is well aware of the ill effects of alcohol addiction on the drinker’s health, relationships, as well as in his/her social standing. Alcoholism is a treatable disorder, as like many other drug addictions. Synonyms of alcoholism are alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence. Alcoholism used to be termed as dipsomania.

At present World Health Organization (WHO) term for alcoholism is “alcohol dependence syndrome”.

What are the risk factors of alcoholism?

There are several risk factors and causative factors for alcoholism. Some risk factors for alcoholism include stress, state of mental health, social environment, easy availability of alcohol (e.g. alcoholism is more common and prevalent where alcohol is produced in large scale and available easily), genetic, age, sex, ethnicity etc.

Is it possible to prevent alcoholism?

It is possible to reduce alcohol consumption, which is important preventive measure for alcohol addiction. International and national bodies (different governments) have formed different alcohol policies to control and prevent alcoholism. Alcohol policies such as increasing the age at which alcohol can be purchased (preferably adult age should only be allowed to buy alcohol), banning/restricting advertisement of alcohol etc. are some steps which are being used by different Governments to reduce alcohol consumption and alcoholism. But one major hurdle for governments is loss of revenue if sale of alcohol is reduced and most governments do not want to lose it. This economic factor is the most important obstacle for reducing alcoholism.

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