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Alcoholism is considered to be a chronic illness or disease that is marked by an uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages despite its interference with ones physical or mental health and social family or occupational responsibilities It is actually a drug addiction which is also referred to as alcohol dependence as by the American Psychiatric Association APA The APAs DSM-III-R requires that at least three of the following conditions be present in order for an individual to be classified as an alcoholic alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than the person intends the individual has a persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control their alcohol use the person often consumes alcohol to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms the individual suffers from characteristic alcohol withdrawal or the person exhibits a marked tolerance which is at least a fifty percent increase in the amount of alcohol needed in order to achieve intoxication or the desired effect or a markedly diminished effect occurs from continued consumption of a constant amount of alcohol Silverstein 1990 The development of alcoholism usually occurs over a period of between five and twenty-five years and generally follows a fairly consistent pattern of progression Although the statistics vary studies do show that the incidence of alcoholism is increasing and that about seven percent of adults in the United States alone are affected by it Malik 2000 However research for a cure for alcoholism is slowed by the fact that experts still dispute what individual or combination of factors actually cause the disease This paper will attempt to present and analyze the major possible causes of alcoholism genetics and environment and then discuss the conclusion reached through the evidence presented that alcoholism is caused by a complicated interaction of both genetic and environmental factors Alcoholism as a Family Trait The observation that alcoholism tends to run in
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