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The Social Impact of Alcohol Abuse
Published on: November 12, 2013 08:28:35 PM by Lettie Reiner.
In : Health
Alcohol misuse affects 18 million Americans. Some abuse alcohol but are not physically dependent on it. Others will get withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop drinking alcohol (alcoholism). If you or a loved one has these symptoms they may have alcoholism. These are:
Strong and powerful urges to drink alcohol, at any time of the day or night
The need to drink more and more alcohol to have the same pleasurable effects (this is called tolerance). If it takes a lot to get you drunk, you may be drinking too much.
Inability to have just one drink – do you go to the bar with the intention of having just one drink and then end up staying for the rest of the evening? If you can’t limit the amount you drink once you start, you may be affected by alcoholism.
Withdrawal symptoms. Do you feel unwell when you haven’t drunk alcohol for a while? If you’ve run out of beer or have tried to quit drinking it but then get physical symptoms like shaking, sweating and nausea you are likely to be suffering from alcohol dependency.
Alcohol Abuse Hurts
Health authorities and health promotion campaigns tend to focus on the many physical health problems you may experience as a result of excess alcohol, such as liver disease, stomach problems, cancer and even brain damage, but there are numerous social and emotional side-effects of alcoholism and it can end up affecting every area of life and the people you care about.
Sexual Inhibitions – Over-using alcohol can mean you engage in sexually risky behavior and put yourself at risk of sexually transmitted infections or unintended pregnancy, both of which have far reaching consequences. If you are a woman and you continue to drink while pregnant, your baby is at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (developmental impairments caused by fetal exposure to alcohol). In severe cases, your baby may be brain damaged or have life-long disability.
If you’re a man, too much alcohol may cause problems at the opposite end of the spectrum, for instance, inability to maintain an erection (impotence) and DNA damaged sperm (this limits your chance to become a father if you want to be in your future). Alcohol can literally rob you of your sexual relationship and of the family you want to have.
Sometimes excess alcohol can cause normally even tempered people of either gender to become violent, sexually or otherwise.
Accidents – Alcohol misuse increases your chance of accidents at work (operating machinery) or when driving. A blood alcohol level as low as 0.02 can impair your response times even though this is below the drink driving limit. If you also take medications, this will further blunt your ability to make wise decisions and react quickly and appropriately when in charge of a vehicle. Nearly one third of all traffic related deaths in the US are caused by drink driving and in 2010, 10,228 people were killed due to alcohol impaired driving. 211 of the victims were children under 14 and more than half of them were being driven by a driver under the influence of alcohol. Loss of a loved one brings a lifetime of pain and missed opportunities for that person’s relatives and a guilty burden for the person responsible.
Tarnished Career Opportunities – Alcohol misuse can mean that you can’t concentrate on your job and perform your professional duties as well as you are capable of. This can lead to missed promotions and denied pay rises, leaving you unable to get the bigger house you wanted or afford a holiday abroad. It could also cause financial difficulties. When coupled with increased expenditure on alcohol you might find yourself taking out loans and getting into debt. Excess alcohol consumption can make people combative so you might start having arguments with your colleagues or face disciplinary action from your boss. You could even be fired. An untreated alcohol problem could make it challenging to find further work and affecting the rest of your life. The National Epidemiological Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions found that many people who seek withdrawal treatment are able to stay alcohol free and more than 70% of people with alcohol dependence have a single bout of alcoholism lasting three or four years before being able to quit. Don’t let yourself be a negative statistic. You too can banish alcohol from your life and begin to have the rewarding career you know you deserve.
A Criminal Record – Alcohol misuse increases a person’s chance of obtaining a criminal record or time in prison through alcohol related accidents, violence and anti-social behavior. What you may not know is, it also increases the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime and even homicide.
A Broken Home – Alcohol misuse can mean you neglect family responsibilities or activities in favor of drinking, such as missing your child’s school play or forgetting an important social gathering. As excess alcohol can cause depression and mood swings, you could also be irritable and short tempered with your family or in a worse- case scenario, violent. Children from homes where one or both parent’s abuse alcohol are more likely to suffer neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Even if this isn’t the case in your family, it certainly puts marriages under strain.
Get Help Today
See your doctor – he can give you medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting alcohol and he can also combine these with counseling sessions for you to bring the maximum positive effect to you.
He or your health insurance provider may be able to refer you to an alcoholism specialist who can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for help – they should not penalize you for seeking steps to recover as this will help you become a more productive member of the team. Some places of work offer an employee assistance program to help you meet the cost of specialists you might need.
Your other options include seeking a psychologist whose speciality is addictions (see the American Psychological Association or the American Society of Addiction Medicine for advice) or going to a self-help group for group therapy on addictions (such as alcoholics anonymous – AA – and SMART recovery, an organization that teaches self-management techniques and life coaching skills to people with all forms of addiction). You can change your life today and the first step is admitting you need help and making that all important call to invest in your future.
Author: Melissa Holtby