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Alcoholism & Addiction

Jerome Whitehead Death Connected to Persistent Alcohol Abuse

Jerome Whitehead, known for a historic 1977 shot in the NCAA semifinals, among numerous NBA career highlights, died in December 2012 of causes related to persistent alcohol abuse.

Whitehead’s NBA career spanned more than a decade, including play for San Diego, San Antonio, the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks. He was drafted from Marquette University in 1978. One of Whitehead’s most notable and career-marking moments occurred at Marquette University with a pivotal shot during the NCAA semifinal game in 1977.

Long-term alcohol abuse leads to numerous serious health conditions, and is a progressive addiction. As the addiction progresses, the person loses their ability to control their cravings for alcohol, and must consume larger amounts more frequently to achieve a desired sense of relaxation, or to regain a sense of feeling "normal."

For a person who abuses alcohol chronically, serious or fatal problems with the liver, heart and other organs often occur. On a psychiatric level, persistent depression or mood swings can also be present.

Alcoholism is also linked with higher chances of cancer. Over time, those living with alcoholism may learn ways to hide the addiction or to consume alcohol in private, and can be labeled as functioning alcoholics – further hindering their ability to get professional help. In addition, untreated depression or untreated mental illness may co-exist with alcoholism and further complicate diagnosis and treatment.

Whitehead is believed to have died of gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which recent articles have stated is linked to chronic abuse of alcohol.

Ongoing research reveals a number of factors may be present in the development of alcoholism, such as specific genetic elements, that make some people more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than others.

Although alcoholism is a factor in thousands of deaths each year, with professional diagnosis and treatment, many people living with the disease can manage their triggers and maintain recovery for years.

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