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Understanding Alcoholism

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Image is from DrugAbuse.com

Drinking has become entrenched in our society and it is part of our lifestyle. From toasting the bride and groom with a glass of wine or drinking during the happy hour to brush of the stresses of work, it has become a natural part of our live and this makes it difficult to establish when it becomes a problem.

For most people, moderate drinking means two drinks a day for men or one for women, this is however one end of a range that goes through alcohol abuse to full blown alcohol dependency.

Alcohol abuse

This is a drinking habit that results in adverse effects and results in the user not being able to fulfill their daily duties, whether in school, work or family obligations. At this point, it is common to find someone with legal problems as a result of drinking such as DUI or public disturbance. It also affects an individual’s ability to relate with other people.

Alcohol dependency

Also called alcoholism. This is where an individual has lost total control of their alcohol use. It is not dependent on the type of alcohol being consumed or the amount, it is solely about a person’s inability to stop drinking, either to maintain the alcohol fueled “high” or to avoid the stress and pain of withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, irritability, restlessness, tremors and even convulsions.

Alcoholism Warning Signs

The divide between social drinking and alcoholism can be blurred and many people don’t seem to know when they are on the verge of alcoholism. Below are some of the warning signs of a drinking problem:

  • If someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated.
  • Drinking more than you had planned to.
  • Mixing alcohol with other drugs.
  • Poor work or school performance due to alcohol related activities.
  • Not remembering events while you were drinking, also called blacking out.
  • Inability to relax or unwind without alcohol.
  • If relationships start suffering due to alcohol.
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed and hiding it from family and friends.
  • Avoiding family commitments due to alcohol.
  • Breaking the law under the influence of alcohol.
  • Inability to stop drinking even when you try.

Causes of Alcohol Related Disorders

There are several causes of alcoholism, they include genetics, physiological and social factors. These factors do not affect everyone in the same way. For some alcoholics, psychological factors such as low self-esteem and impulsiveness my lead them to consume alcohol while others may be affected by social factors, chief of which is peer pressure. Poverty and physical abuse may also lead to alcohol dependency.

Genetic factors also play a key role in the alcohol dependency of some people. Most people who boast how much they are able to ‘hold’ liquor may be more at risk-not less- of developing alcohol problems. The absence of a history of drinking in a family does to protect the children from developing these problems.

How Alcoholism Affects People

Small amounts of alcohol may be beneficial for the body but heavy drinking is detrimental to someone’s health. Short-term effects include hangovers, memory loss and blackouts. Long-term effects that are as a result of heavy drinking include cancer, stomach ulcers, heart problems, brain damage and liver cirrhosis.

There are other dangers to alcoholism apart from ill health. People who suffer from alcoholism tend to engage in risky activities that may cause death, they include: Driving while drunk, suicide, unprotected sex and even homicide.

Drinking problems are also associated with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and memory loss. Such preexisting conditions may be made worse by alcoholism.

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Understanding Teen Alcohol Abuse

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Take A Trip Down Memory Lane

The best way to understand what prompts teens to abuse alcohol is to go back to your own days as a youngster. What teenager has any desire to become the wino stumbling drunkenly home with bags twenty tons heavy weighing down his eyes and making him look like a grim-reaper with a ratty wig? What teenager wants to get their insides spread across the interstate because they got hammered and then run over by a semi? Young men and women don’t have the experience to properly understand the consequences of their actions. They may understand what they are doing is wrong, or taboo, but the why behind it eludes them.

Get Inside Their Heads

When you were a teenager, it probably eluded you, too. As a fourteen year old, sneaking into the barn at the edge of the neighbor’s property with two kids from Algebra class and a six pack of beer, you weren’t trying to really get into “trouble”, you were trying to see what this whole “beer” thing is about. It wasn’t that you wanted to become an alcoholic, or get in a drunk driving accident. You wanted to have a new experience. Or, you wanted to be one of the “cool” kids. You didn’t want to be a drain on your family, get arrested, or develop an alcohol problem. It started out innocent enough! But then several years had gone by, and the “cool” thing to do became drinking after school at any opportunity. In large part, because it was illegal for you to drink, you had to find your alcohol from people willing to buy it. This meant it didn’t often come in large quantities, so you’d have to drink a lot really quick to get the “buzz” you were after. But at the same time, you didn’t really understand what alcohol could or would do to your body. You had been drunk several times without vomiting or a hangover–you figured that stuff was for people who couldn’t hold their drink! Oh, how wrong you were.

Curiosity Killed The Cat

Curiosity. Trying to be cool. Behavior that follows patterns. These three things are a big factor in teen alcohol abuse, but another which may be even more prominent is abuse elsewhere in a young person’s life. A child from an impoverished portion of town scarred at seven by a knife-wound to the head from a drunken father will likely develop a similar substance dependence over time. These things are cyclical, and can be informed by poor choices on the part of presiding authorities.

Clueless

In any situation where teen alcohol abuse is taking place, though, what is integral to understand is that the teenager has no idea what danger they are in. Even if they have been subject to abuse from long-time alcoholics, they never attribute those same eventual characteristics to themselves. This is just human nature–we tend to avoid thinking about those aspects of our persons which are most shameful to us. We blind ourselves. Why should a teenager be any less culpable of this because they’re younger? In point of fact, they’ll do so much more effectively than those experienced enough to have grown out of such mental behavior.

Change Surroundings

The best thing to do to help curb teen drinking is change the situation. Change a teen’s surroundings. Get them involved in activities which must be alcohol free. A new perspective yields new goals and directives which can help correct a downward spiral. But above all else: be there for your son or daughter, show them love.

 

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