The Origin of Alcoholism

Table of Contents

origin of alcoholism

Alcoholism is different from other chronic medical conditions in several ways. Not only does it occur in people of all ages and stem from a variety of potential risk factors, but the onset of alcoholism can either occur rapidly or slowly, over time. Each individual who struggles with alcoholism will have their own personal drinking history; no two experiences with the onset of the disease will be identical, and the causes and symptoms will vary on a person-to-person basis. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol use disorder as, “A medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” Alcohol use disorder, or AUD, can be mild, moderate, or severe in nature. Like other chronic conditions, AUD can be effectively treated but never entirely cured.

When considering the origin of alcoholism, it is important to note that the onset of the condition will look different depending on the person. If you are considering that you might have a problem with alcohol but you are unsure of what steps to take to find out and get the help you need, we recommend reaching out to 12 Step Illinois today. We are standing by to help offer you insight and support, and point you in the direction of a 12 Step meeting in your area.

The Origin of Alcoholism

Alcoholism has been around for as long as inebriating beverages, and mention of alcoholism as a chronic and relapsing brain disease dates back to the start of the 18th century. Encyclopedia Britannica states, “The concept of inveterate drunkenness as a disease appears to be rooted in antiquity. The Roman philosopher Seneca classified it as a form of insanity. The term alcoholism, however, appeared first in the classical essay ‘Alcoholismus Chronicus’ (1849) by the Swedish physician Magnus Huss. The phrase chronic alcoholism rapidly became a medical term for the condition of habitual inebriety, and the bearer of the ‘disease’ was called an alcoholic or alcoholist (e.g., Italian alcoolisto, French alcoolique, German Alkoholiker, Spanish alcohólico, Swedish alkoholist).”

Before Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935, individuals who suffered from severe cases of alcohol use disorder were often admitted to asylums (psychiatric hospitals), and released once they had undergone withdrawal. As soon as they were released, with no true defense against the first drink, they returned to the bottle straightway — much to the shock and dismay of their loved ones. Since it was founded, there has been extensive research conducted on the efficacy of 12 Step programs like AA. Do they really work? If so… how? One article published by Stanford Medicine reads, “Alcoholics Anonymous, the worldwide fellowship of sobriety seekers, is the most effective path to abstinence, according to a comprehensive analysis conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators.

After evaluating 35 studies — involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants — Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that AA was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving abstinence. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs.” Fortunately, those who suffer from alcohol use disorder no longer need to worry whether or not their condition can be effectively treated. Millions of people across the globe have recovered, and recovery is possible for you or your loved one, as well.

The Development of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is significantly different from other chronic medical conditions for a variety of reasons. An article published by the National Library of Medicine reads, “In many ways, alcoholism differs from most other diseases. First, it generally develops slowly over a person’s life and can occur in people of all ages. Second, it has no single known cause: Heredity, culture, economics, and the environment all contribute to its development, and each alcoholic has his or her own personal drinking history. Third, both alcoholics and their alcohol-related disabilities can change over time. For example, alcohol can have long-term effects on the central nervous system that may alter an alcoholic’s personality and perception of the past. Finally, no known cure exists; although some patients recover either ‘spontaneously’ or after treatment, many patients never recover.”

While the last sentence of this excerpt might seem a little grim, it is important to acknowledge that many people do make a full recovery. This is especially true when they have access to the treatment resources they need, and when they commit to building out a solid sober support network. At 12 Step Illinois we are dedicated to pairing residents of Illinois with the treatment services they need to make a full and lasting recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

Contact Us to Begin Your Recovery Journey

If you or someone you love is suffering from an alcohol use disorder of any type or severity, 12 Step Illinois is available to help. We understand how difficult it can be to come to terms with an alcohol use disorder, and we know that reaching out for help takes an immense amount of courage. Fortunately, as soon as you make the decision to ask for the help you need, we will be available to help guide you through the remainder of the early recovery process. First of all, it is important to determine which treatment options are going to be the most appropriate for your unique case. If you or your loved one is suffering from a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder and any co-occurring issues, entering into a multi-staged treatment program might be the best option. Because the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous when left untreated, medical detoxification could be a necessary first step. In some cases, medical detox should be immediately followed up by a higher level of care, like inpatient rehab or partial hospitalization (PHP). To learn more about treatment options in Illinois, contact us today. In some instances, engagement in a 12 Step program in Illinois can be effective as a standalone treatment option. We encourage you to reach out today for more information on 12 Step meetings in your immediate area. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you out however we can.

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