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Alcoholism can destroy the lives of alcoholics and those who surround them. In order to prevent and treat alcoholism, you need to be knowledgeable about it. This includes knowing the correct alcoholism definition as well as alcoholism signs, causes, effects and symptoms of alcoholism.



A correct alcoholism definition from the Oxford Dictionary states that alcoholism is an “addiction to the consumption of alcoholic drink; alcohol dependency”; the operative words here being “addiction” and “dependency”.

In fact, alcoholism is considered medically as a disease as the drinker shows patterns of compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol which is usually to the detriment of the drinker’s physical health, personal relationships and general social standing including work life. More specifically, alcoholism is considered to be an addictive illness.

Alcoholism is a long term chronic disease by which drinkers are literally physically and mentally obsessed with alcohol and cannot control how much of it they consumer regardless of whether or not they are aware of the negative effects it may be having at home, work and on their finances.

Often an alcoholic will have to drink and/or get drunk just to get through the day!


Early alcoholism signs include drinking alone frequently and hiding or lying about drinking. This is a sign that the drinker feels that what he or she is doing is incorrect but continues doing it regardless. Guilt without commitment to stop is a sign of alcoholism.

As alcoholism becomes more serious the drinker may begin to have problems at school or work. Their productivity usually begins to decrease due to lack of focus and moodiness. Eventually the drinker may begin to go into school or work late or not even at all!


Soon friends and family will become worried about the drinker and will link their strange and harmful behaviour to drinking. But despite the concern of their loved ones and the noted health issues, drinkers will continue their compulsive drinking. This is also one of the many alcoholism signs.

Alcoholism will also cause drinkers to experience withdrawal symptoms and drinkers will have to drink more and more in order for the alcohol to have the same effect.

Physical alcoholism signs include weight loss, gastritis, and permanent redness of the nose and cheeks.


Alcoholism causes are varied and can be a one of or a combination of genetic, environmental, social and psychological factors. Due to the ease of availability of alcohol in the modern world, it is easy for these factors to become exacerbated.

It is true that those who suffer from alcoholism may have a family history of alcoholism. This is because there are certain genes that have a disposition to alcoholism in that they metabolise alcohol differently than others. Therefore, the “alcoholism gene” can be inherited.

However environmental factors can play a major role in that many who suffer from alcoholism drink in order to escape from emotional pains and traumas, distress, fatigue and even simply boredom. Poor upbringings associated with emotional, physical and sexual abuse as well as failed and hostile relationships are common causes.

Many alcoholics use alcohol as a social lubricant in that it allows them to feel a sense of communion with other people. This feeling of connection can sometimes only be achieved by drinking, especially in the case of those with poor social skills.



Alcoholism is a complicated disease. See below these quick alcoholism facts that will help you to understand its severity.

  • Alcoholism usually begins in the mid-teens and affects more men than women.
  • Those who suffer from alcoholism are more likely to be involved in crimes from petty theft and assault to rape and murder.
  • 69% of women abused by their spouses identified alcoholism/drug addiction as the cause of the conflict.
  • An estimated 30% of general hospital admissions in South Africa are in some way related to alcoholism and alcohol use.
  • Half of all road accidents in South Africa were the result of drunkenness.
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse costs South Africa at least R9 billion annually.

This goes to show that alcoholism is a widespread problem with very serious consequences for the personal lives and general wellbeing of alcoholics.

If you struggle with alcoholism, take your life back! Contact Bethesda today and get back on track.



Perhaps the scariest effects of alcoholism take place in the body. Besides cardiovascular and liver failure; alcoholism can also increase an alcoholic’s chances of developing cancers of the mouth and throat, anaemia, dementia due to brain damage, gout, high blood pressure, epilepsy and seizures, nerve damage known as alcohol neuropathy, gastritis and pancreatitis and even depression. Alcoholics are also more likely to contract STIs due to lowered inhibitions. An alcoholic is more susceptible to diseases because of a weak immune system.

Above this, alcoholics often lose their jobs and the respect of their family and friends which results in massive psychological and emotional trauma.