Biological Causes, And Biological Factors And Alcoholism

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Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. Users show an inability to control their drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol- characterized by cravings, tolerance (needing more), physical dependence, and loss of control over consuming alcohol. Alcohol intoxication may or may not be obvious to observers. Alcoholism is a major problem in American society as statistics show that alcohol abuse is responsible for approximately 79,000 deaths each year. More than 20 percent of Americans drink well above the recommended intake levels (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2008). About 15 million American adults meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011). The following sections will review research regarding alcoholism, examining the illness through a biopsychosocial lens.

Biological Factors and Alcoholism Research has shown a close link between alcoholism and biological factors, particularly genetics and physiology. Several study designs, including twin, family, and adoption studies, have been used to determine whether relatively common diseases, such as alcohol dependence, are caused at least in part by genetic factors and to estimate the magnitude of the overall genetic contribution. Specifically, twin studies compare the similarity in disease status between
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