Alcohol abuse is one of the top reasons that people go to rehab. Many people are under the false impression that alcohol abuse is mild in comparison to addiction to hard drugs. However, they are not the same. It is like comparing apples to oranges, and all addictions are equally dangerous and can have deadly consequences. Alcohol addiction is particularly difficult to deal with for a number of different reasons.
The Blurred Line Between Social Drinking and Alcohol Abuse
Drinking alcohol is a cultural norm in our society. The availability and consumption of alcohol is an everyday occurrence. The fact is that alcohol is everywhere which makes it extremely difficult to avoid if you are trying to abstain. It is also completely normal to overindulge in alcohol. After all, being hung over is almost a rite of passage for young adults. So, where is the line between drinking “normally” and being addicted to alcohol?
Most adults can handle going out for a few drinks and cutting themselves off before things get out of hand. Others, cannot. If you find yourself in the latter group, there are some surefire signs you may have a problem. They include:
- Trying to regulate the amount you are drinking without success.
- Feeling the need to have a drink after work, and feeling anxious if you don’t
- Secretly drinking, or in situations where it isn’t appropriate
- Consuming alcohol by yourself
- Drinking to calm your nerves and feel better about social situations
- Having a drink the morning after drinking in order to feel better
The problem is that drinking can start off innocently enough and quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 90,000 people die from alcohol related causes each year in the USA alone. That makes it the fourth leading preventable death in America. For a substance that is legal, these numbers are staggering.
The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Everyone drinks, so it has to be harmless, right? Not at all. Alcohol carries with it a number of negative side effects. Especially when abused. Physically, alcohol is a known carcinogen, and also can cause heart disease, diabetes, and many diseases of the organs, namely the liver. The liver is an essential organ that filters toxins out of the body. It takes a huge toll from excessive drinking.
Mentally, alcohol makes mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder much worse. While it may temporarily make a person feel better, once the alcohol runs out, the negative emotions will return tenfold. This makes you reach for another drink, and the cycle of alcoholism begins. Many people admitted to treatment for alcohol abuse have a co-occurring mood disorder. Dual diagnosis programs work to treat both conditions simultaneously. Alcohol is never a good solution for self-medicating.
Socially, alcohol can destroy your life. It can cause problems with your friends, family, and relationships. Additionally, alcohol abuse may lead to divorce. People abusing alcohol often have a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome where they turn into a completely different person once they have had enough to drink. If they don’t get help, the situation can get ugly and even violent.
Legal and Career Consequences of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can make your work and school performance suffer. When you are hung over, you won’t be able to make it to where you need to be on time. If you get to the point where you are drinking before work or school, it is only a matter of time before someone finds out, and there will be heavy consequences. When you abuse alcohol, there is also a big chance of getting in trouble with the law for reasons like drunk driving. And, your chances of having an accident increase monumentally. This is because alcohol causes impaired judgment.
It is important to remember that “having a few drinks” can turn into alcohol abuse quickly. A healthy amount of alcohol is just one drink per day for females and two per day for men. Clearly, this number is not the same for everyone, since certain people with health conditions should abstain from alcohol entirely. If you think you struggle with an addiction to alcohol, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible before your life becomes significantly and negatively impacted.