Over the years as a therapist, I have seen the rise in alcohol abuse among patients and in the environment around them. Many of them can only feel good when they can escape their problems through a drunken haze. Many of them deny they have a problem with drinking and some of them deny that they drink at all. It has become a habit and an ingrained one at that. I have also seen how alcohol abuse can ravage the mind, body and spirit, cause severe health and mental problems and lead to inappropriate behaviour such as promiscuity, aggression and drink driving. All usually justified by stating “I wouldn’t have done this when I was sober!” or something of the like. This is the major problem : It becomes totally routine to drink and justify it, leading to an increase in consumption to get the same effect.
Many codependents I work with are also involved with an alcoholic and become involved in the dysfunctional environment around them. It plays into their enabling nature and in the end, the often fuels the problem. Many have been physically, emotionally or verbally abused when their partner is under the influence. Many are affected financially when thousands are spent every month keeping the addiction going. We mustn’t forget that many alcoholics are “functioning” where it appears that they can drink large amounts with being visibly affected. These people might become abusive when not drinking. There are myriad reasons the functioning alcoholic drinks, with stress prevalent in a large number of cases, according to experts. However, the outcomes are the same: health problems, turbulent relationships or eventual meltdowns. Virtually every alcoholic is in denial to some extent and resistant to effective treatment, often blaming all around them. The effect on families and partners is extremely destructive.
Not only is this a drain on families but also on society in general. The National Institute of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in America states that the costs of healthcare, related crime, lost productivity, etc of drug and alcohol abuse in 2013 was around 600 billion dollars…for alcohol alone 275 billion dollars. These are staggering sums, more than some countries have available generally. In Germany, the number of alcohol poisoning incidents jumped by 112 percent between 2015 and 2017, rising 194 percent among people aged 20 to 25. In 2017, a record in Germany was set for the number of under-19’s hospitalised for alcohol abuse. The impact on society is incredible but still we are encouraged through the media to drink. Glossy adverts showing healthy looking people drinking and enjoying themselves is not reality but this is the reality we are sold.
Alcohol use can make mild social problems worse by causing people to be more irritable and likely to argue and by affecting judgment and control of behavior. Alcohol use can also be the topic of arguments. Misuse of alcohol can lead to a number of moderate and serious social problems including:
- losing friends;
- losing jobs;
- child abuse and domestic violence;
- separation of family members; and
These things also happen without alcohol involved but add it and it certainly does not help. Until the governments in charge REALLY control the use and sale of alcohol AND deal with the social problems that can cause alcohol abuse, the problem will not get better.
What is an alcoholic?
How much you drink can influence your chances of becoming dependent. Those at risk for developing alcoholism include:
- Men who have 15 or more drinks a week
- Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
- Anyone who has five or more drinks per occasion at least once a week
One drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of liquor. You have an increased risk for alcohol abuse and dependence if you have a parent with alcoholism. You may also be more likely to abuse alcohol or become dependent if you:
- Are a young adult under peer pressure
- Have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
- Have easy access to alcohol
- Have low self-esteem
- Have problems with relationships
- Live a stressful lifestyle
- Live in a culture alcohol use is more common and accepted