is a serious problem in society today and this problem is not
new. Higher primates such as chimpanzees will eat rotting fruit
that has fermented in order to achieve a "high". Historians
believe the first alcohol that was purposefully brewed was date
palm wine originating in Mesopotamia. The texts created by the
ancient Egyptians refer to social problems caused by public drunkenness.
In the 1830's alcohol addiction in Great Britain was rampant,
partly due to the rapid industrialization of that nation.
Alcohol addiction, thus, has been a part of humanity
since the first alcoholic beverage was brewed and continues to
be a problem today.
Alcoholism has two main components: cravings (physical and psychological)
and taking action to stop the cravings. When Alcoholics Anonymous
states in the first of the 12-steps, "We admitted we were
powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable,"
this can be interpreted as "We are powerless over the cravings
" It is the powerful physical and psychological
cravings that those with an alcohol addiction problem seek to
stop through drinking. In addition, when a alcohol dependent person
stops drinking and starts going through the painful withdrawal
symptoms, this also encourages the person to drink in order to
stop the pain of the withdrawal.
Where the alcoholic is not
powerless, though, is over the action part of the equation.
Even though the cravings are powerful and the withdrawal symptoms
are painful, it is within the alcoholic's power to take no action
to stop the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. In other words,
it is within the alcohol dependent person's power to not take
a drink. Many alcoholics do not believe that they have this power,
though. They feel that they are powerless to refrain from taking
action (drinking) since the cravings and withdrawal symptoms are
simply too powerful.
In order for the addicted individual to abstain from drinking,
they will need to make a conscious decision to tolerate the
pain and discomfort for a period of time during detoxification
and on a lesser scale thereafter. Detoxification can be helped
by the administration of certain medicines from a licensed
professional so that the detox does not turn out to be overwhelming
and life threatening.
With the addition of therapy
and support from others, the alcohol dependent
person starts to realize that they do have some power and control
over their addiction. They start to realize the difference between
the cravings and withdrawal symptoms which they have no control
over and the act of drinking to stop the symptoms which they do
have control over. Being able to tolerate the cravings and withdrawal
symptoms will give the alcoholic a new sense of power and self
control that he or she may not have experienced in years.
Tolerance of symptoms is the most important task that those with
an alcoholism will learn to face and manage. For many people inpatient
alcohol abuse treatment program can help them break the vicious
cycle of alcoholism. With the right alcohol abuse treatment, long-term
recovery is possible.