When most people are seeking alcoholism information, they want to know some details about the disease and how it affects people. Let’s take a look at some of these details.
First of all, alcoholism is a disease. It is classified as such by major medical organizations (such as the AMA). Even if it is not technically a disease–as some will argue–it makes sense to treat it like a disease. The reason it makes sense to do so is because we achieve better results that way. When we treat it as a moral failing, the shame and guilt tends to produce worse recovery rates.
Second of all, alcoholism is progressive. That is a type of disease. A progressive disease gets worse over time. That means that the condition will always get gradually worse, never better. Of course it can fluctuate up and down on a day to day basis, or even on a month to month basis. But if you look at the long trends, the disease always gets worse. One way to measure this is by observing blackouts. For example, an alcoholic may have never had a blackout yet, but then suddenly they will have one. They brush it off and continue to drink, and they might not have one for a long time. But then in a year or two, they are having at least one or two blackouts every month. In another few years, they will blackout a few times each week. It is even possible for an alcoholic to reach a point where they blackout every single time that they drink. It is very rare to reach this point, though, because most alcoholics will die long before they reach that level of reverse tolerance.
Third, alcoholism is fatal. If left untreated it will kill the person.
Finally, alcoholism is chronic. This means it is recurring and it can even progress and get worse when the alcoholic is abstinent. You can talk with recovering alcoholics who have experienced this and be amazed that they all report the same thing: after years of sobriety, they pick back up a drink, and they are right where they left off within less than a week. Every person who I have spoke with has confirmed this fact. You would think that years of sobriety would add some buffer to the process. You would think those years of sobriety would teach them how to slow down a bit. Not so. When you put a single drink into their body, they are right back to the same level of alcoholism within a few short days.