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Alcoholism in the United States

Though there is no specific date for when alcohol was first consumed, scientists have dated it back to the Neolithic Period. Historically, alcohol was used for a wide spectrum of things: pleasure, nutrition, and medical religious reasons.

The Babylonians heavily consumed beer, and they held wine offerings for gods and goddesses as early as 2,700 B.C. The Code of Hammurabi devoted attention to alcohol, but never mentioned penalties for drunkenness.

The Chinese also consumed alcoholic beverages. It was written of their society in 650 B.C. that “the people will not do without beer.” It was also said that alcohol abuse was impossible to prevent, but was warned against.

The Greeks were the most temperate of the ancient people. They drank alcohol in moderation and diluted wine with water. Though they were the most temperate, intoxication among the Greeks was not unusual.

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The date for when alcohol became such a serious problem is also not clear. It is clear, however, that at some time in their lives, between 3 and 10 of all Americans will be afflicted by alcoholism. Damages touches 1 out of every 3 families. Alcoholics have a mortality rate two to four times higher than the average person.

There is no clear line that separates an alcoholic from a heavy drinker. Each person is born with different biological makeup. This means that different people are born with different rates of vulnerability to alcohol.

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The Natural History of Alcohol: Revisited states, “Alcoholism has direct, as well as indirect, effects on the central nervous system. Alcoholism affects personality and perceptions about the past so markedly that the true facts of an alcoholic’s life can often be discovered only by prospective study.” Culture and individual studies are the only way to determine where the line is drawn.

Excessive drinking should be considered more than just a bad habit. Convincing a person to give up alcohol often requires a skilled professional, usually a behavioral therapist. Alcoholism can often lead to secondary symptoms. No matter how serious one’s alcohol issue may be, there is always hope for change.

*All statistics are confined to the USA


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