Alcoholism is a disease that affects both men and women of all ages. It can begin as early as the teenage years and plague a person for a lifetime. It is not something that can be ignored or turned off. An alcoholic has an addiction to alcohol, forcing the body and mind to crave that substance even though it only causes adverse effects. The alcoholic differs from the social drinker, who has an occasional drink, or the binge drinker, which consumes many drinks in a short period on occasion. The alcoholic needs to drink every day to get through a day. The amount of alcohol is excessive until functioning is impaired. Alcoholism destroys lives, doing irreparable damage to a victim’s health, relationships, career, and can ultimately end in death. Those who suffer from alcoholism need to recognize that there is a problem and get professional help to recover.
The Statistics Do Not Lie
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 80,000 people die from excessive consumption of alcohol, or alcoholic overdose, each year. This statistic is especially alarming when one realizes that it is due to something that can be addressed with changes in lifestyle. The number of cases of alcoholism compares to the threat of heart disease and cancer.
The facts about alcohol addiction are daunting. For instance, alcoholism can have the following repercussions:
- Affects approximately one out of every ten Americans
- Cuts years off of a person’s life
- More visits to the doctor and emergency room
- Can result in the death of others through driving accidents
The Damage Can Be Immediate
Alcoholics may think that no immediate harm can be done by their drinking, that they are in complete control, and it is their business. Nothing could be further than the truth. One night of drinking in excess could result in a terrible accident from impaired driving. Innocent lives could well be affected as a consequence. Chalk up over a third of domestic violence cases to alcohol abuse as well. Men and women are more likely to forget about any inhibitions, becoming involved in sexual intercourse.
Sexually transmitted disease, unplanned pregnancy, and rape are common results that are blamed on too much alcohol. For pregnant women, the implications are alarming, with a much higher rate of miscarriages and stillborn babies due to excessive drinking. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can also result in fetal alcohol syndrome for the infant, meaning children pay the price for a mother’s drinking. Alcohol poisoning is another danger. One bout of binge drinking can result in blood alcohol levels that are high enough to lead to unconsciousness, interference with the nervous system, and even death.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
For alcoholics that have been fortunate enough to escape disaster in the short term, long-term effects are awaiting them. The threat of permanent damage to their health should be sufficient to force those who struggle with alcoholism to seek help.
Alcoholics can expect a higher risk of the following:
- Heart problems
- Increased incidence of neurological problems
- Liver Disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Depression and suicidal tendencies
Alcoholism Can Be Treated
Alcoholics do not need to live a tragic life, traveling down a one-way street to disaster. The disease can be treated. There are a variety of recovery programs that are available to the public.
Alcoholics have the following options:
- Inpatient therapy in a substance abuse facility
- Outpatient therapy
- Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups
- Sober living houses for transitional periods
It is vital that those suffering from alcoholism seek help before it is too late. The family doctor can be the first point of contact, providing valuable resources for help. Community centers, clinics, and the hospital can also provide alternatives. The Internet offers a host of useful information. Inpatient treatment centers are often most effective, removing an individual from sources of temptation and stress.
An alcoholic needs to become the top priority to be healthy once again. Sober living residences offer a transitional location for recovering alcoholics. No longer in an around-the-clock treatment program, they are provided with a safe environment that is structured. No access to alcohol is permitted. There is more freedom in the sober living house as residents resume work, chores, and interactions with others in a more controlled setting. When the recovering alcoholic feels healthy enough to return to normal life, the sober living home is no longer necessary.
No One Should Face Alcoholism Alone
Alcoholics and their loved ones need support to deal with this disease. It will be a long road to recovery. There will be setbacks and pitfalls along the way. Everyone involved in an alcoholic’s life will need assistance as well to be a safety net for their loved one. It is important to recognize an alcoholic’s triggers that lead to drinking and to avoid putting that person at risk of falling into bad habits once more. When everyone works together, under the guidance of trained experts, it is possible to see a successful recovery. An alcoholic’s life can be improved and enjoyed by everyone.