Information About Alcoholism
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:
- Craving. There is a strong compulsion to drink.
- Loss of control. Once an alcoholic starts drinking, they can’t stop.
- Physical dependence. When an alcoholic does stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety occur. These symptoms go away if they start drinking again.
- Tolerance. They start needing more and more alcohol to get the same “high.”
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.
Some of the effect of alcoholism on family life include:
- Loss of sleep due to late-night drinking.
- Tension in the room when someone is drunk, especially if they are belligerent or have accidents.
- Arguments over money spent on alcohol, often resulting in marital stress and divorce.
- Unhappy children who are neglected, apathetic, anxious, depressed, even hostile as a result of alcoholism effects.
A pattern where one child becomes an alcoholic while others do not. Or sometimes both parents are affected by alcoholism, which means there will be two alcoholic parents teaching their children how to drink alcohol instead of teaching them moderation.
Alcoholism further affects an alcoholic’s family life, 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 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.
There is also more than one way to get treatment. Treatment at a rehab facility, such as a hospital or clinic, may be the ideal situation for some people. It offers more of a “fresh start” and can help build motivation.
At the same time, many alcoholics benefit from ongoing outpatient therapy, which can include individual counseling and group sessions with recovering addicts who share their experiences and challenges in dealing with alcohol addiction. Reach out to a treatment provider today.
For family members of an alcoholic, there are support groups such as Al-Anon that offer understanding and information about alcoholism effects on family life. These groups often give family members tools to help them cope with what they are going through when living with an active alcoholic or in recovery themselves.
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, here is a book with more information.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.