Alcoholism, chronic and usually progressive illness,. Alcoholism is thought to arise from a combination of a wide range of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors. It is characterized by an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol, and it frequently leads to brain damage or early death.More males than females are affected by alcoholism, but drinking among the young and among women is increasing. Consumption of alcohol is apparently on the rise in the United States, as is the total alcohol consumption and prevalence of alcohol-related problems in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This increase is paralleled in other countries, including developing nations. After 1980, however, consumption remained relatively stable in many western European nations.Development Alcoholism, as opposed to merely excessive or irresponsible drinking, has been thought of as a symptom of psychological or social stress or as a learned, maladaptive coping behaviour. More recently, and probably more accurately, it has come to be viewed as a complex disease in its own right. Alcoholism usually develops over a period of years. Alcohol comes to be used more as a mood-changing drug than as a foodstuff or beverage served as a part of social custom or religious ritual.Initially, the alcoholic may demonstrate a high tolerance to alcohol, consuming more and showing fewer adverse effects than others. Subsequently, however, the person begins to drink against his or her own best interests, as alcohol comes to assume more importance than personal relationships, work, reputation, or even physical health. The person commonly loses control over drinking and is increasingly unable to predict how much alcohol will be consumed on a given occasion or, if the person is currently abstaining, when the drinking will resume again. Physical addiction to the drug may occur, sometimes eventually leading to drinking around the clock to avoid withdrawal symptoms.Effects Alcohol has direct toxic as well as sedative effects on the body, and failure to take care of nutritional and other physical needs during prolonged periods of excessive drinking may further complicate matters. Advanced cases often require hospitalization. The effects on major organ systems are cumulative and include a wide range of digestive-system disorders such as ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas, and cirrhosis of the liver. The central and peripheral nervous systems can be permanently damaged. Blackouts, hallucinations, and extreme tremors may occur. The latter symptoms are involved in the most serious alcohol withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens, which can prove fatal despite prompt treatment. This is in contrast to withdrawal from narcotic drugs such as heroin, which, although distressing, rarely results in death. Recent evidence has shown that heavy-and even moderate-drinking during pregnancy can cause serious damage to the unborn child: physical or mental retardation, or both; a rare but severe expression of this damage is known as foetal alcohol syndrome. HISTORY OF ALCOHOL Thousands of years ago people began to make alcohol for practical reasons. Wine making began with the early Egyptians who found that grape juise spoiled quickly,but that fermented juise or wine would keep without spoiling.They also had problems with impure water,and the Egyptians noticed that people did not sick ower wine,but they often became ill when they drank inpure water.In later years,wine became inportant to the Roman Catholic Church throughuot Europe because wine was used to celebrate the sacrament of the Mass.By the 1300`s,beer industry had emerged in Central Europe.At this time,wine was also continuing to grow in popularity;many brands named for the places in which they originated.At first alcohol was desined for the practical reasons,its use changed.People began to experiment with different types of alcohol.Alcohol became an integral part of European culture.We need to understand the harmful effects of alcohol,because it can be fatal.