Many people can stop drinking after one or two beers or glasses of wine, vodka, whiskey, or other alcoholic beverages. Some people, however, can't stop, and are at great risk of alcoholism. Alcoholism affects both your body and your life. Excessive drinking over a long period can lead to dependency--so great a need for alcohol that you will become physically ill if you abruptly stop drinking. Constant drunkenness can lead to loss of job and family, serious accidents, and arrest. Large amounts of alcohol consumed year after year also result in severe damage to the liver, brain, and heart. Without treatment, an alcoholic faces increasing illness and a needlessly early death.
The cause of alcoholism is unknown. It may be present from birth. If women drink while they are pregnant, their infants can be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, a serious condition that affects the development of their brains and may cause serious illness. Some studies have tried to prove that alcoholism is hereditary, and that people are genetically prone to be addicts of some sort and the most common addiction is alcoholism.
Advertising is also blamed partly for the prevalence of alcoholism in our society. Advertisements on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines contribute to teen alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Alcoholic coolers are also displayed in grocery stores next to fruit drinks, suggesting to teenagers that drinking them is as harmless as drinking fruit juices. Research has shown that by the time teenagers reach driving age they will have seen 75,000 ads for alcohol products. Fifty-six percent of students in grades 5 through 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink. In the year 2000, the beer industry spent almost $800 million on advertising. These facts and statistics seem to show that being bombarded by alcohol advertising may have an effect on the amount of alcoholism in our society.