Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver failure, heart disease, cancer, and many other serious health problems. For a long time, modern medicine has viewed alcoholism to be a moral or psychological disorder. These days, doctors better understand that this disease also creates a physical dependence in the sufferers as well. Treating alcoholism has been an ongoing problem in North America, where only 139,000 people out of a possible 19 million are actually receiving any treatment for the disease. Recent surveys have also shown that alcoholism affects a vast number of people.
When a group consisting primarily of the general population — but also some doctors and recovering alcoholics — was questioned, the researchers found that alcohol has a deep impact on society. In fact, almost three- quarters of those questioned said that alcoholism was a problem in some aspect of their lives. Another 41% of these people said that they had to intervene with loved ones and ask them to get help for their problem with alcoholism.
The study also revealed that most people believe a weakness of principles is at least partially responsible for most cases of alcoholism. This could be why many alcoholics do not seek help. One of the top two reasons for this is a fear of social embarrassment; the other is a reluctance to admit that there’s a problem at all.
Right now, there is a push toward developing more medications to help people dealing with alcoholism. There are already three FDA-approved pharmaceutical products (‘naltrexone,’ ‘disulfiram,’ and ‘acamprosate’) that can help alcoholics overcome their problem. However, these medications are not widely prescribed.
The above survey suggests that if medications such as those mentioned were recommended by physicians, then people would be willing to seek them out. Medications that can reduce cravings for alcohol and assist in the process of abstinence may greatly assist people’s attempts to give up their addiction. With any luck, alcoholism will soon be treated as seriously as smoking addiction is.
Hopefully, in the future, more methods (beyond just moral- support groups) will become available to help people deal with their alcoholism.