Let’s talk a little about alcoholism. What is it, and what are some alcoholism effects? And, most importantly, what kind of help is available?
The first thing you need to know about alcoholism is that it is a disease. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s not a lack of morals, it doesn’t mean someone is a bad person. It’s a disease. This disease has several characteristics:
Because the craving for alcohol is so strong, and because of the loss of control, a person who is an alcoholic usually can’t “just stop drinking” even when they want to. Will power is not enough, and professional help is needed. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
There are numerous effects of alcoholism. The disease not only affects the alcoholic, but also their family, friends, co-workers, and others in their social circle. Alcoholism effects can touch all areas of life.
The alcoholic begins to focus more and more of his or her time on drinking and begins avoiding family members and friends other than “drinking buddies.” Many alcoholics prefer to drink alone so they can hide the amount they are drinking. When family members or friends comment or express concern about how much the alcoholic is drinking or about the problems that are arising due to the alcohol consumption, arguments may erupt.
The alcoholic may begin to miss work or school, or go in late, due to being “hung over.” Performance may suffer. The family may begin to experience financial problems.
There may be legal problems as well. The alcoholic may be caught driving while under the influence.
There are also alcoholism effects on one’s health. Alcoholism can cause ulcers, damage to the liver and pancreas, malnutrition, seizures, and abnormal brain functioning. These effects usually occur in someone who has suffered from alcoholism for some time. One thing to note about alcoholism is that, even when told about their health problems, an alcoholic will continue drinking. They just can’t stop.
When talking about alcoholism, it’s important to talk about treatment. There is help available. A successful treatment program addresses all of the alcoholism effects, and includes individual counseling, group sessions, educational sessions, family counseling and education, and may include complementary therapies such as art therapy, yoga, meditation, and so on.
Twelve-step groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) are very popular, and make a good addition to a complete treatment program, but are generally not enough by themselves for someone just beginning treatment. There are also 12-step groups for family members of alcoholics, called Al-Anon, which can be beneficial. You can find these by looking in your local telephone book, by calling the nearest alcohol and drug treatment center, or looking online.
Treatment is almost always necessary in order to break the addiction. Because alcoholism is a disease, as discussed earlier, it’s very difficult for an alcoholic to “just stop” drinking. Many want to do it on their own, but few are successful in that way. Professional help is always recommended.
Alcoholism is considered to be a lifelong disease. An alcoholic who stops drinking is not considered to be cured but is considered to be “in recovery.” Alcoholics cannot drink again, not even in moderation, because they will find it difficult or impossible to stop at one or two drinks. They must give up alcohol altogether.
Feel free to write to us if you have any questions about alcoholism and its treatment.