Is Alcoholism Considered a Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses are conditions that make individuals behave abnormally towards people and their environment. Drinking can be a contributing factor to some mental health conditions. So we pose the question, is alcoholism considered a mental illness? Keep reading to find out.

Is Alcoholism Considered a Mental Illness

Is Alcoholism Considered a Mental Illness?

Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is also referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). There is still hope for a life free from alcohol misuse and the symptoms it causes, even though alcoholism is now recognized as a diagnosable mental condition.

Are Alcoholics Suffering a Mental Health Issue?

Similar to widely-known mental health disorders, alcoholism makes an appearance in the 5th and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Alcoholism is now number five on the list of mental health disorders in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The conditions considered to be mental illnesses range from diagnoses such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline personality disorder

Alcoholism is a physical illness as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rank this disorder, along with tobacco use, a lack of physical exercise, and poor diet, as one of the top four avoidable causes of chronic illness. It also hurts physical health.

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Is Alcoholism Considered a Chronic Disease?

Although alcoholism is classified as a mental health illness, it is also a disease. This is so because it fits into the criteria of disease theory, and the following factors below qualify it as a disease.

  • Biological in nature with a predictable timeline of both development and recovery.
  • There are observable signs and commonly shared symptoms among sufferers.
  • It does not go away or heal on its own without intervention.
  • A progressive illness that could get worse over time.
  • If left untreated, it can be fatal.

But is alcoholism a chronic illness? Chronic illnesses are ailments that impair everyday activities, last for a year or more, and need continuing medical care.

The answer to this question is yes, since AUD is degenerative, requires treatment, and interferes with the user’s everyday life.

Alcoholism develops in three phases, with problematic drinking being the first, followed by compulsive alcohol abuse, and then addiction as the last.

Problematic Drinking

Problematic drinking starts the first stage of AUD. At this point, the physical and psychological, or chemical, dependence begins. Long before this point, drinking for pleasure or social purposes stops.

When the consumer stops drinking, withdrawal symptoms start to appear. This causes alcohol usage to increase in frequency to lessen the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Severe Abuse of Alchohol

The second stage of AUD is marked by severe alcohol abuse. In this stage, the problems that arose during the problematic drinking stage continue to develop and negatively impact the user’s life, relationships, and general health.

As the user’s alcohol dependence increases, problems associated with alcoholism and mental illnesses start to show more clearly.

In this stage, uncontrollable alcohol cravings cause (or make worse) mental health problems like irritability, anger, sadness, and anxiety.

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Obsessive Alcohol Abuse

The third and final stage of AUD is the obsessive alcohol abuse phase. In this stage, the user has likely been drinking heavily for years and is experiencing the onset of (or is at high risk for) other chronic conditions such as:

  • Diseases of the liver (such as cirrhosis)
  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Various types of cancer (like that of the esophagus, colon, or liver)

Dealing With Alcoholism

People who struggle with alcohol addiction often find it hard to cope with stress and anxiety. The more you drink, the less able you are to deal with these feelings in healthy ways.

Try some non-drinking activities like yoga or going for a walk in nature. Remember that there’s no such thing as having too many friends – make sure you spend some time connecting with people on a deeper level every day!

Alcohol is a problem when it interferes with your life. It becomes a problem when you can’t enjoy yourself without drinking, when you need alcohol to socialize, or when it affects your work or other activities. If any of these things are happening in your life then it’s time to get help.

There’s nothing wrong with needing some extra support sometimes; we all need help sometimes. The important thing is that you don’t let alcohol use take over your life – so if it has then it’s time to seek some professional help!

Excessive alcohol use is something that many people struggle with at some point in their lives. It can feel like there’s no way out, but there are ways to deal with this problem.

It’s important to seek help if you think that you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol use. The first step is recognizing when it’s become excessive and then seeking help from a professional who can walk you through the next steps toward recovery—it doesn’t have to be as hard as it might seem!

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