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Debate still exists over whether or not alcoholism should be considered a disease. Some people, including health care professionals, say that it is; others say it is not.

Much more is known now about alcoholism than in years past. For example, there is proof that genetics can play a part. This will be addressed more fully later in this article. In addition, it has been shown that the physical dependence on alcohol can be just as real, and devastating, as any psychological dependence.

Alcoholism usually progresses at a very gradual process. This process occurs as alcohol changes the levels of certain chemicals that are already present in the brain. Two specific chemicals deal with impulse control and the desire for pleasure. As alcohol use increases, the chemicals that control impulsive acts are dampened, while those that control feelings of pleasure are heightened. The result is a literal craving for alcohol in order to appease those feelings.

As mentioned earlier, genetics can play a role in alcoholism. It has been estimated that 20 to 25% of those who had fathers or brother who were alcoholics can become alcoholics; for females with alcoholic mothers or sisters; the estimation 5%. Studies have been conducted to support these figures, and indeed findings are beginning to reveal that specific chromosomes and gene markers may also be involved. Further, those who have a family history of alcoholism also show changes in brain wave patterns.

None of these statistics will do anyone any good if help is not sought for a person suffering from alcoholism. The first step to seeking addiction treatment for this problem, or disease if one feels that way is, of course, for a person to admit there is a problem.

Family members, friends and loved ones can help with this if they know the signs and symptoms. These include, but are not limited to: discovering that a loved one drinks alone or hides his drinking from others; shows a true craving for alcohol; is unable to control how much he drinks; suffers blackouts; and becomes edgy or anxious if he cannot drink at a specific time. There are other symptoms also, but these are just a few.

As mentioned earlier, it is important that the person himself admit there is a problem. Once that occurs, however, there are ways in which a person can undergo alcohol rehab. Rehabilitation can be obtained at alcohol treatment centers where all the emphasis is placed on addiction treatment for alcoholism. Many people find these programs to be very effective, as they do not feel as though they have to accommodate others who may not have an alcohol addiction. The focus is totally on alcoholism, and in some cases, that is exactly what a person needs.

Rehab programs vary between centers, so there should be no problem in finding one that is right for the person suffering from alcoholism, especially if he is serious about overcoming this disease or problem.

References:
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/alcoholism-000002.htm
http://web.pdx.edu/~hue/alcoholism_and_genetics.htm

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