Alcoholism — The “Legal” Drug

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Where drug abuse is concerned, the drug of choice isn’t always illegal. The drug can be tobacco, over-the-counter aerosols, or alcohol – all legal to use but also easy to abuse. While the first two are frequently socially unacceptable, the third is a part of society and the associated abuse, rampant.

In America, the use of alcohol begins early. More than half of Americans aged 12 and over used alcohol in the month prior to be surveyed and almost one-quarter had binged, according to a 2009 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

The costs associated with alcoholism are staggering. It is estimated that alcohol dependence and abuse cost the U.S. about $220 billion in 2005.  This is more than the cost associated with cancer or obesity, $196 million and $133 million, respectively.

Alcoholism is endemic in our society. According to the Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, a family history of alcoholism is present in more than half of all adults and over nine million kids live with a parent abusing alcohol or drugs.

People often keep drinking even when it affects their health, family, friends and job. Once a person is an alcoholic, he can’t be cured. That means that it is always a part of his physical makeup. However, alcoholism is treatable and manageable.

To treat alcoholism, a person has to stop drinking. Detoxification or “detox” must occur before a person can be treated and begin recovery.

Medical help is necessary when going through detox because a body addicted to alcohol can go through violent withdrawal. In addition, a person should have a physical exam because some medical conditions such as liver disease, alcoholic Pancreatitis and heart-related illnesses, can be exacerbated during the process. The actual alcohol detox only takes two days at the maximum during which time symptoms will wax and wane.