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Is Alcoholism a Disease?

 image showing statistic on alcohol related fatalities

A disease is a condition that harms the body’s normal functioning. According to this definition, alcoholism is a disease because it impairs an individual’s everyday life and causes disruptive symptoms of an illness, mental and physical. Since alcoholism is considered a disease, let’s take a closer look at how it affects the mind and body.

The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse     

Drinking excessively can be significantly unhealthy. Too much alcohol consumption can result in severe consequences. Between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in more than 140,000 fatalities and 3.6 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually in the United States, cutting people’s lives short by an average of 26 years. Below are some effects of alcohol on the body.

Liver Damage 

Any disorder that harms the liver and impairs its function is classified as liver disease. Conditions brought on by excessive alcohol intake are explicitly referred to as liver diseases associated with alcohol. The liver is particularly vulnerable to injury since it is the primary organ involved in the metabolism of alcohol consumption. The liver converts alcohol into the harmful and carcinogenic chemical acetaldehyde during metabolism. So, alcohol damages the liver poorly and also affects mental health. 


Alcohol can harm not only the liver but also the pancreas. Alcohol abuse can cause pancreatitis, a painful pancreatic inflammation that frequently necessitates hospitalization. According to the evidence, one of the most frequent causes of pancreatitis is alcohol dependence. The inflammation, in all likelihood, is caused by alcohol-related damage to the pancreas, which leads to various chemical processes in the organ, persistent exposure to acetaldehyde, and premature activation of proenzymes to pancreatic enzymes. 


Substance abuse may increase the risk of various types of cancer. The risk of acquiring alcohol-related cancer rises with ongoing alcohol use. 

The following malignancies, in particular, may be made more likely by alcohol consumption:

  • Mouth and throat
  • Voice box
  • Esophagus
  • Colon and rectum
  • Liver
  • Breast 

In addition, it’s normal for people who drink alcohol also to smoke cigarettes. Smoking can make upper gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract malignancies more likely. To protect your body and state of mind, it’s often suggested and recommended by medical professionals to avoid and quit excessive alcohol consumption.

Ulcers and gastrointestinal issues 

Digestive issues can also be brought on by excessive alcohol consumption. This is mainly because inflammation-related harm and interference with stomach acid secretion are to blame. Among the potential stomach problems are:

  • Ulcers and bleeding
  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Swelling, such as esophagitis, gastritis, and duodenitis

Immune system 

Studies show that drinking larger amounts of alcohol and the immune system’s health are related. The immune system may benefit from modest alcohol consumption, while long-term heavy drinking can have harmful effects.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the source of the immune system by lowering immune cell counts and raising the danger of infections. Studies explain that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases the risk of contracting HIV, TB, and pneumonia.

Brain damage  

Alcohol consumption may harm the central nervous system (CNS). Additionally, it depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and might impair thinking and coordination. This could make traumatic brain injuries from falls or accidents more likely. Ten thousand one hundred forty-two people died due to drunk driving in 2019.

Regularly consuming too much alcohol over a long period may cause alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a neurological condition that can emerge from this, can cause eye impairments, movement difficulties, confusion, significant memory loss, and trouble doing daily tasks. 

Malnourishment and Vitamin Deficiencies 

Malnutrition and vitamin deficits can also result from dysfunctional drinking. With heavy drinking comes a lot of nutritional inadequacies. The inefficient metabolism of nutrients contributes to this, even though bad dietary decisions may partially cause it. Severe drinking damages and inflames the digestive tract and stomach lining, hindering the body’s ability to absorb vitamins. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can result in internal bleeding, raising the risk of iron deficiency anemia.  


Osteoporosis is characterized by a loss of bone mass, making the bones more porous and frail and raising the risk of fractures. According to the data, drinking can deleteriously impact bone health and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Alcohol alters cortisol levels, vitamin D production, and calcium balance, potentially compromising bone structure. Alcohol may raise the chance of a fall resulting in a fracture, which can impair coordination.

Heart and Cardiovascular Health Issues 

Heart problems or cardiovascular diseases can result from heavy alcohol use. Regularly consuming too much alcohol can cause hypertension, which increases blood pressure. This hypertension is due to drinking a lot of alcohol might cause hormones to be released that tighten blood vessels. This can increase the heart’s workload and increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as congestive heart failure and heart attacks.

Moderate alcohol use can contribute to a healthy diet or lifestyle and may have positive health effects. But heavy drinking that lasts a lifetime is unhealthy and linked to several ailments. Alcohol abuse increases the probability of dangerous accidents, damage to various organs, and the emergence of chronic illnesses. People should try to drink sensibly as a result. Suppose a person is aware that they have a problem with alcoholism. In that case, they should seek professional treatment and get in touch with support groups for additional assistance to get rid of their alcohol abuse problem. 


Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that involves frequent or heavy alcohol use. People with alcohol use disorder can’t stop drinking, even when it causes problems, emotional distress, or physical harm to themselves or others. But the good point is that it can be treated. If your loved one is experiencing alcohol abuse below discussed treatment options can be headful to bring a person back on the life track.


Detoxification is the best initial step toward recovering from

alcohol use disorder (AUD), but it rarely works by itself to enable long-term sobriety. A person can transition into a formal and often longer-lasting treatment program by undergoing a series of detoxification interventions to assist them in safely and comfortably stopping drinking.

Before a patient enters a detoxification facility, a doctor must thoroughly analyze their history of alcohol dependence, initial withdrawal symptoms, and medical and psychiatric history to determine their risk of withdrawal. Patients may also have blood work done and be screened for any co-occurring mental or physical health conditions as part of this examination. 

Residential Treatment 

Patients receiving inpatient or residential AUD therapy from the treatment center must live and stay in the rehab facility round-the-clock. The length of inpatient alcohol treatment varies; it may involve brief stays of 3-6 weeks that may or may not be followed by attendance at an outpatient rehab. 

Some people must stay six to twelve months in therapeutic communities (TCs), which offer highly structured programming and support for community reintegration.

A person can concentrate solely on their recovery and developing the necessary coping skills to live life as a sober person when they are kept away from distractions and environments where they may be exposed to people, places, or events that can cause an alcoholic relapse. This is why inpatient and residential rehab stays are beneficial in quitting alcohol abuse.   

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient alcohol rehab centers help individuals overcome the side effects of drug abuse and learn how to recognize and prevent triggers. Many outpatient treatment plans meet daily for the first several weeks or months. Afterward, the number of meetings will be conducted on how far along a person has come in recovery.

Common Causes of Alcohol Disease

A variety of factors cause alcohol use disorders. Instead, a person’s risk for addiction is increased by various things. The following risk factors for alcohol consumption disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • Becoming a frequent drinker before the age of fifteen 
  • Social problems and genetics
  • Diseases of the brain and background of trauma
  • Binge drinking and heavy drinking

An alcohol consumption problem frequently develops from genetic predispositions and environmental factors, such as stress or trauma. Before the age of fifteen, those who start drinking are more likely to develop drug addictions than those who wait until they are twenty.

Frequently asked questions 

Is alcoholism a disease or a habit? 

Alcohol Addiction or other drugs, commonly referred to as substance use disorder, is a chronic brain condition that can affect anyone. When substance use turns into an uncontrollable habit that negatively impacts your day-to-day life, such as difficulties at work or school, disputes with your relationships, or issues with the law or your finances, you have a severe substance use disorder. In 1956, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized alcoholism as an illness; in 1987, it added addiction to that list. 

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) joined the AMA in 2011. It adopted the definition of addiction as a chronic brain condition rather than a behavior issue or merely the outcome of making poor decisions.

Is alcoholism a disease you are born with? 

One cannot be born with an alcohol use disorder due to how genetics and environment interact. Even though certain people may have genes that make them more likely to develop an alcohol consumption disorder or alcohol-related problems, heredity only contributes to around half of an individual’s overall risk.

What disease do alcoholics have? 

Chronic illnesses and other grave issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and brain disease, can develop over time due to heavy alcohol consumption. Several types of cancer of the rectum, liver, colon, mouth, throat, esophagus, and breast are also found in alcoholics. 

Is alcoholism a disease? 

Alcohol Addiction is classified as both a physical and mental disease. Left untreated and ignored, it can cause several problems besides damaging your mental and physical health. So, treatment is a necessity to get rid of alcohol abuse.

Get The Treatment You Deserve at Indiana Center for Recovery

We all admit alcohol can be the biggest enemy of human health, prosperity, and relationships. Need help fighting alcoholism? Let Indiana center help you out. Indiana Center for Recovery is one of the most highly recognized rehab centers in the United States. Our state-of-the-art facility came into existence with the vision to promote an alcohol-free life. We offer a wide range of alcohol treatment programs, including detox, outpatient, inpatient, integrated care and CBT, and EMRD therapies to help individuals dealing with alcohol abuse. 

Our medical professionals are proficient and highly trained in taking good care of our patients through every stage of the process. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need. 

Call us at (844) 650-0064 to learn more about treatment plans and amenities. Our admission counselors are available 24/7 to answer any questions you have about the process.