Alcohol Abuse Drinking alcohol is woven into the social fabric of our culture, and indeed many people enjoy the social and cultural connection of sharing a drink together. However, because drinking is so common in our society, realizing you or a loved one has a drinking problem can be a challenge. The consequences of alcohol abuse are serious. Alcohol abuse causes extensive damage to your health, your loved ones, and society. It results in thousands of innocent deaths each year, and exacerbates situations involving violent crimes and domestic violence.
Social drinking is common and popular is many cultures all over the world. In several cultures, for example, a glass of wine or beer with a meal is common practice. Celebrations are often punctuated with a glass of champagne or other celebratory cocktail; in many jobs, going out for drinks after work or entertaining clients with alcohol is the norm. The difference between social drinking and alcohol abuse is when alcohol becomes your focus. You might only want to attend social events that involve alcohol, or you can’t enjoy yourself.
Getting to the bar, or making a drink after coming home from work becomes more important than connecting with friends or family. Alcohol might be your way to avoid painful feelings or troubled relationships. As a result, you might resort to dangerous behavior, like driving while drunk or even increased violent behavior. Increased dependence on alcohol leads to alcoholism, where you are physically dependant on alcohol and have lost control of the amount you drink. According to www. helpguide. org, there are many myths about alcohol abuse: * Myth: Alcoholics have no will power.
If they were stronger they could just stop drinking. Fact: Alcoholism affects brain chemistry, which causes you to feel compelled to drink alcohol. Usually you can only stop drinking if you receive continuing help and treatment. * Myth: I can’t have a drinking problem. I have control over it because I only drink on the weekends. Fact: When you abstain from drinking for a certain period of time and then consume a large quantity of alcohol in a very small span of time, this is called binge drinking. It is a common symptom of alcohol abuse. *
Myth: I can’t be an alcoholic. I only drink wine or beer. Fact: While hard liquor is more concentrated, wine or beer will have the same effect. You will just be drinking more of the wine or beer. * Myth: Drinking is not a “real” addiction like drug abuse. Fact: Alcohol is a drug, and alcohol abuse is every bit as real as drug abuse. Alcohol addiction has serious long term health and legal consequences, and withdrawal can be deadly. Why can one person drink responsibly, while another drink to the point of losing their health, their family and their job?
There is no one simple reason. Alcohol abuse and addiction is due to many factors. Do you drink to share enjoyment or share a connection with others? If drinking is the only way you feel comfortable connecting to others, or you drink to mask depression, grief, anxiety or loneliness, you are at risk for alcohol abuse. Some other risk factors include family history of alcoholism, peer pressure, stressful situations or a big life change, and a history of mental illness such as dual diagnosis.
When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called dual diagnosis. Dealing with alcoholism or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems, but there are treatments that can help. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome substance abuse, get the symptoms of depression or anxiety under control, and reclaim your life.
Co-occurring disorders, also referred to as dual diagnosis, is a term used when you have both a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, and a drug or alcohol problem. Both the mental health issue and the addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. Complicating the situation, the two problems affect each other and interact. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse as well.
And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too. It can be difficult to diagnose a substance abuse problem and a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It takes time to tease out what might be a mental disorder and what might be a drug or alcohol problem. Complicating the issue is denial. Denial is common in substance abuse. It’s hard to admit how dependent you are on alcohol or drugs or how much they affect your life. Denial frequently occurs in mental disorders as well.
The symptoms of depression or anxiety can be frightening, so you may ignore them and hope they go away. Or you may be ashamed or afraid of being viewed as weak if you admit the problem. Alcohol abusers, or problem drinkers, are people who drink too much on a regular basis. The alcohol use is self-destructive or can present a danger to others, but they still demonstrate some ability to set limits and establish some measure of control over their drinking. While some people are able to maintain this pattern for a long amount of time, alcohol abusers are at risk for progressing to alcoholism.
This might happen in response to a large stressful event, such as retirement or losing a job, or it might gradually progress as tolerance to alcohol increases. When alcohol abuse progresses to alcoholism, also called alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, alcohol becomes essential to function. Alcoholic symptoms include a physical dependence on alcohol, and inability to stop despite severe physical and psychological consequences. Some alcoholics can hold down a job or appear to be functioning on the surface, but the drinking inevitably leads to impaired job performance and troubled relationships.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides a screening questionnaire for assessing the differences between alcohol abuse and alcoholic dependence. Remember, though, the bottom line is how alcohol affects you. If it is affecting your relationships, job, or health, yet you can’t seem to stop yourself, then the problem is serious. Teenagers notoriously like their privacy, are often irritable and cranky, and like to sleep in. How can you tell if your teen has an alcohol problem? Look for marked changes in behavior, appearance and health.
Is your teen suddenly having trouble in school? Does he or she seem more and more isolated, or have a new group of friends? Your teen might have an unusually hard time getting up or appear sick regularly in the morning. If you have alcohol in the home, do the levels decrease faster than they should? Is the alcohol watered down? Alcohol abuse is challenging to detect in older adults. Increased alcohol use might happen as an older adult retires, loses a loved one, or has to move. Older adults are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol as their metabolism changes.
Since older adults often do much of their drinking at home, problems functioning often go undetected. Clumsiness, unsteadiness or confusion might be attributed to the natural aging process. Works Cited Page * Guide for Assessing and Implementing Alcohol/Drug Abuse Prevention. Mar. 1998 http://www. kcdlonline. com/KCDLHome/index. cfm? fuseaction=SearchRec&TitleID=2064&CFID=26697313&CFTOKEN=31857542&RequestTimeout=600 * Let’s Talk About Alcohol Abuse. Johnston, Marianne. Jan. 2003 * “Alcohol: How to Give Up and Be Glad You Did”. Tate, Phillip and Ellis Albert. Jan. 1996