April 1, 1997
Alcoholism: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects
Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people in the United States today. It not
only affects the alcoholic, but also their family, friends, co-workers, and eventually total
strangers. The symptoms are many, as are the causes and the effects.
Alcoholism is defined as a pattern of drinking in which harmful consequences result
for the drinker, yet, they continue to drink. There are two types of drinkers. The first type,
the casual or social drinker, drinks because they want to. They drink with a friend or with
a group for pleasure and only on occasion. The other type, the compulsive drinker, drinks
because they have to, despite the adverse effects that drinking has on their lives.
The symptoms of alcoholism vary from person to person, but the most common
symptoms seen are changes in emotional state or stability, behavior, and personality.
'Alcoholics may become angry and argumentive, or quiet and withdrawn or depressed.
They may also feel more anxious, sad, tense, and confused. They then seek relief by
drinking more' (Gitlow 175).
'Because time and amount of drinking are uncontrollable, the alcoholics is
likely to engage in such behaviors as  breaking family commitments, both major and
minor;  spending more money than planned;  drinking while intoxicated and getting
arrested;  making inappropriate remarks to friends, family, and co-workers; 
arguing, fighting and other anti-social actions. The alcoholic would probably neither do
such things, nor approve of them in others unless he was drinking' (Johnson 203).
The cause of alcoholism is a combination of biological, psychological, and cultural