Alcoholism: Society's Out of Control Disease

Alcoholism is a devastating behavioral disease. It is a medical condition that uniquely affects the person, their loved ones, and all of society.

-photo from hangover.org

Secondary Diseases

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Alcoholic Dementia (AD) is similar to Alzheimer's Disease in not only the physical effects on the brain itself, but in behavioral health deficiencies. While Alzheimer's normally strikes at an older age range, Alcoholic Dementia and other related alcoholic disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and alcohol induced psychotic disorders can strike at a young age. Alcoholism is best treated early to avoid severe complications that can occur to mental health. Alcohol also poisons every body system besides the brain over time in heavy drinkers, leading to debilitating diseases. It is a progressive and chronic disease. More available and quality treatment options for individuals with alcoholism would help sufferers of the condition. More public educational efforts to stop the effects of glamorizing and brushing off alcohol as "legal, and therefore safe and fun", like in current advertising practices by companies, would be helpful. Efforts to achieve legislation in every state to treat alcoholism as a mental illness, would have an immense positive effect. Also, this would give families or their caretakers recourse to have them treated for their safety as well as the alcoholics. At times they are a threat to themselves or others just as a suicidal depressed person, or a violent person in need of commitment and help. Part of the disease is denial of it, and so currently in many states alcoholics (and other drug abusers) are given the CHOICE whether to have their disease professionally treated. This causes broken families, hurt children, broken relationships, car accidents, other crimes, greater cost to healthcare, legal issues, financial loss, violence, and death. 

Another secondary disease to alcoholism is Alcoholic Neuropathy, a central nervous system (CNS) disease. The effects from damage to the brain from alcohol can disrupt the nerve "messengers" to important body systems and alter their functioning:

Getting Treatment for Alcoholism and Legislation to Support Loved Ones of Addicts

-photo from cleanandsobernotdead.com
Illinois is in need of a Marchman's/Baker's Act. Addiction to drugs or alcohol (a legal drug) can make the addict a threat to themselves or others in many cases. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is defined as a mental illness by the DSM-IV, the diagnostic manual for mental illness for Psychiatrists and Clinical Social Workers. Our justice system is in need of reform. By allowing those afflicted with this disease to continue hurting themselves or others, it legalizes inflicting pain on their loved ones and has a degenerative consequence to a civilized society. It's allowing abuse to continue, rather than addressing it. Criminalizing addiction is only making a profit off of addiction by the states who don't allow involuntary commitment of addicts. Judges who are aware of criminals with addiction problems should do what they can to force the illness to be treated, rather than showing ignorance and enabling addicts to continue their behavior. Irrational thinking by addicts who need help is a threat to those around them. It is sad that so many local police, judges, and courts, are of little help to those who care for them and suffer from their mental illness right along with them. They deserve relief. States with Marchman and Bakers Acts for addiction have lower crime rates, lower unemployment, lower poverty rates, less murders, and less children in foster care! Yet, for the masses who disagree with involuntary commitment, they say it is a threat to "their" personal freedom and choice, and shout about the legality of the drug alcohol. What about everyone else's Constitutional right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Not treating this disease is stomping on the general public's most basic rights.

Other Considerations Regarding Addiction

According to several research articles, psychiatrists are blindly prescribing drugs of abuse to small children. Many children are misdiagnosed, and subjected to addictive substances. They are also then at increased risk for drug and alcohol addiction as adults. Failure of psychiatrists to properly address toxic stress or other environmental issues in families, is adding to it. Solutions may include psychiatrists developing an ability to think outside their closed thinking box of 'biological causes' to every inappropriate manifestation that is seen. More focus and a willingness to attempt behavioral modification without pharmaceuticals would also be helpful. With overwhelming evidence supporting environmental causes for problem behaviors among children, they should learn to be able to address underlying causes to behavior more often. Prescriptions to small children have become a crutch for psychiatrists, parents, teachers, and the like, and it has done more harm than good. Drugging a child will not fix circumstances beyond their control, and numbing personality and feelings isn't productive long term. Children have adjustability behaviors that can be erratic as a normal part of development. Children especially may show reactions to toxic stress in the home, or who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACE), like drug addiction among family members. As doctors of medicine, it is irresponsible for them to prescribe drugs of addiction that may be later abused by parents, and inexcusable to set children on a path of drug abuse as well.