The first signs of alcoholism were noted in 1784.
However, it is only in the last 100 years that alcoholism has been determined to be a disease that impairs the lives of millions across the world.
While it has been acknowledged that alcoholism is a dangerous disease, many still find themselves contemplating whether alcoholism is a mental illness or not.
However, research conducted more recently indicates that alcoholism has the same characteristics, symptoms and repercussions as a mental illness.
With many asking the question “is alcoholism a mental illness?”, here at Action Rehab, we have explored the effects of alcoholism, why people turn to alcohol and the links between alcoholism and mental illnesses to determine if alcoholism is a mental illness.
The Effects of Alcoholism
Although the effects of alcoholism are often dismissed by those suffering, it is crucial to consider that there are several short term and long-term effects of alcoholism.
These effects can have devastating consequences on the physical and psychological health of those that fail to obtain professional support.
While temporary, the short-term effects of alcoholism include;
- – Increased heart rate
- – Short term memory loss
- – Slurred speech
- – Nausea
- – Headaches
- – Blurred vision
- – Impaired judgement
If treatment is not sought for the short-term effects of alcoholism, or the addiction itself, long term effects will gradually impair the lives of those suffering.
Often irreversible when left to intensify, the long-term effects of alcoholism include;
- – Alcohol poisoning
- – High blood pressure
- – Greater risk of suffering from a stroke
- – Liver disease
- – Heart disease
- – Malnutrition
- – Cancer
- – Pancreatitis
- – Extreme weight loss
- – Permanent changes in physical appearance
- – Infertility
- – Diabetes
Why Do People Turn to Alcohol?
People turn to alcohol for a wealth of reasons. For many, alcohol helps them unwind after a strenuous day at work, others turn to alcohol in social settings.
However, for over half a million people in England alone, alcoholism acts as a form of self-medication.
Individuals that are unable to cope on a day-to-day basis will consume alcohol to relieve themselves of pessimistic thoughts and help them relax for a short period of time.
Research determines that individuals battling mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and anxiety are also more likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate in order to relieve the repercussions of their mental illness.
What Is A Mental Illness?
Before establishing if alcoholism is a mental illness, it is worthwhile considering what exactly a mental illness is.
A mental illness is a health condition that comprises of various problems that impact the mood, thoughts and behaviours of those suffering.
MIND reports that at least one in four adults in the United Kingdom suffers from a mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
However, other mental illnesses that impair the lives of millions of people include Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Eating Disorders such as Bulimia.
As touched on above, regardless of the mental illness that is experienced, individuals suffering will have little control over their thoughts, feelings or behaviour.
Is Alcoholism A Mental Illness?
As outlined above, individuals suffering from mental illnesses are more likely to turn to alcohol to help them cope. Unfortunately, this gradually increases the risk of the individual also suffering from an alcohol addiction.
Many studies have been conducted across the world to determine if there is a link between alcoholism and mental health.
It has been determined that just as an individual does not choose to suffer from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, contrary to belief, an individual does not choose to suffer from an alcohol addiction.
However, those that do not suffer from alcoholism will see it as a lifestyle choice. They will believe that an individual has chosen to turn to alcohol and has made a choice to become addicted.
The stigmas surrounding alcoholism is mostly to blame for this. However, as determined above, alcoholism is not a choice.
Alcoholism is a complex disease that impairs the psychological and physical well-being of the individual suffering.
The disease causes their state of mind to become impaired and restricts the control they have over their thoughts, behaviour and overall mood.
When considering this, it is clear to see that alcoholism is indeed a mental illness.
In the same way that an individual suffering from depression will have succumbed to their disorder, individuals battling alcoholism will too.
Without treatment, those suffering from alcoholism will feel as though there is no way out. They will fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and they will believe that their addiction will control their lives forever.
Can Alcoholism Be Treated?
In short, yes. Alcoholism can be treated and overcome if an individual obtains professional support from a drug and alcohol rehab. However, many refrain from doing so.
At Action Rehab, we have successfully referred individuals that require treatment for their alcohol addiction to various private drug and alcohol rehabs across the country.
In doing so, coping strategies can be devised to ensure that those battling addictions have the opportunity to make a long-term recovery.
In a similar way that mental health disorders will always be a part of an individual’s life, alcoholism will be too.
However, armed with the right tools, many are able to put their addiction behind them once and for all.
Are You Battling Alcoholism?
At Action Rehab, we can help you obtain the treatment that you need by referring you to a suitable drug and alcohol rehab in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland or further afield.
As noted above, alcoholism is a mental illness that can impair your life. Without physical and psychological support, alcoholism can have devastating repercussions.
Contact Us Today
Regardless of whether you are battling alcoholism, know someone that is, or simply want to find out more about the signs and symptoms to look out for, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Our admissions team is on hand to take your call 24 hours a day.