According to Alcohol Concern Organisation (2015) more than 9 million people in England consume alcoholic beverages more than the recommended daily limits. In relation to this, the National Health Service (2015) actually recommends no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day for men and 2 to 3 units a day for women. The large number of people consuming alcohol more than the recommended limits, highlights the reality that alcoholism is a major health concern in the UK which can lead to a multitude of serious health problems. Moss (2013) states that alcoholism and chronic use of alcohol are linked to various medical, psychiatric, social and family problems. To add to this, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (2014) reported that between 2012 and 2013, a total of 1,008,850 admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary cause for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis. This shows the detrimental impact of alcoholism on the health and overall wellbeing of millions of people in the UK. It is therefore vital to examine the aetiology of alcoholism in order to understand why so many people end up consuming excessive alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (n.d.) supports this by stating that learning the natural history of a disorder will provide information essential for assessment and intervention and for the development of effective preventive measures. This essay will also look into the different public health policies that address the problem of alcoholism in the UK. A brief description of what alcoholism is will first be provided.
It is safe to declare that alcoholism is a lay term that simply means excessive intake of alcohol. It can be divided into two forms namely; alcohol misuse or abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcohol misuse simply means excessive intake of alcohol more than the recommended limits (National Health Service Choices 2013). A good example of this is binge drinking. Alcohol dependence is worse because according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2011, n.p.) it “indicates craving, tolerance, a preoccupation with alcohol and continued drinking regardless of harmful consequences” (e.g. liver disease). Under the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)- 5, these two have been joined as one disorder called alcohol use disorder or AUD with mild, moderate and severe sub-classifications (NIAAA 2015).
Alcoholism is a complex disorder with several factors leading to its development (NIAAA 2005). Genetics and other biological aspects can be considered as one factor involved in the development of alcohol abuse and dependence (NIAAA 2005). Other factors include cognitive, behavioural, temperament, psychological and sociocultural (NIAAA 2005). According to Goodwin (1985) as far as the era of Aristotle and the Bible, alcoholism was believed to run in the families and thus could be inherited. To some extent, there is some basis that supports this ancient belief because in reality,
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