Within the context of our society, drinking of alcohol is a perfectly normal activity. For most people drinking a moderate amount of alcohol can be beneficial, indeed studies suggest that moderate drinking may protect against coronary heart disease by improving insulin resistance (Gold, 1991). However, for a minority of people drinking alcohol is an activity that is fraught with danger and, for a very few, is akin to taking a poison that will almost inevitably ruin their lives. Henceforth, it is important for research purposes to define who an alcoholic is and what the effects of alcohol on that person are. An alcoholic is a person who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol habitually and whose pattern of drinking is uncontrollable and usually impulsive. Alcoholism is a chronic and usually progressive illness involving the excessive ingestion of ethyl alcohol, whether in the form of familiar alcoholic beverages or as a constituent of other substances. Furthermore, alcohol often effects the nervous, peripheral and gastric systems and is characterized by mental disturbances and muscular uncoordination, and may eventually leads to disorders such as cirrhosis of the liver (Goodwin, 1988). Alcoholism is thought to arise from a combination of a wide range of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic influences. It is characterized by an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol and may often lead to brain damage or early death (Drews, 1992).
In the past, researchers from various different disciplines sought to pin down a single cause for alcoholism. There was the concept of addictive personality whereby it was suggested that anyo...
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...ard Deficiency Syndrome. American Scientist, 2, 84, 132-146.
Bowden, D., Gravitz, L. (1985). Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Brent, E., Sher, K., Walitzer, K., Wood, P. (1991). Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 427-448.
Brown, S. (1992). Safe Passage. Toronto: John Wiley and Sons.
Drews, T. (1983). Getting Them Sober. New Jersey: Bridge Publishing Inc.
Gold, M. (1991). The Good News about Drugs and Alcohol: Curing, Treating, and Preventing Substance Abuse in the New Age of Biopsychology. New York: Villard Books.
Goodwin, W. (1981). Alcoholism: The Facts. New York: Oxford University Press.
Raistrick, D. (1985). Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. New York: Churchill.
Vaillant, G. (1995). The natural History of Alcoholism Revisited. Cambridge: Harvard University
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