What Causes “Casual Drinking” to Cross the Line into Addiction?

Casual Drinking Can Become Addiction

Addiction is not a word to be taken lightly. It’s important to make sure that we understand the difference between liking something, doing something often, and being genuinely addicted to it. Addiction is not good, nor is it an indication that you’re fond of something. And when you’re at the point where you’ve realized you’re addicted, you often want to stop and would if you could but can’t.

For most people who have gone through being addicted, or are still addicted, the exact moment of when “casual use” ended, and addiction began, is unknown. It doesn’t just happen overnight, but it also isn’t something you really notice. It creeps up on you, like a gradual change. Much like a lobster in boiling water, you could very well be in too deep before you realize something is wrong.

Recognizing that you’ve gone past casual drinking and onto the ranks of addiction, however, is something else. You might not be able to pinpoint when it happened, but you can tell if it happened. But first, it’s time to define what it means to be a “casual drinker”.

 

Casual Drinking, “Problem Drinking”, and Alcohol Use Disorder

Contrary to popular belief, Americans don’t drink as much as you might think. This is increasingly becoming true in younger generations who drink much less than their parents and grandparents used to (part of a greater trend of avoiding a series of other vices). While the reasoning behind this change likely isn’t prudeness or a changing attitude towards alcohol and sobriety, it’s important to observe that the average casual drinker drinks much less than someone who might have a drinking problem.

About a third of the nation’s adults don’t drink alcohol at all. Another 30 percent drink less than one drink per week, either meaning they only drink on special occasions, or have a drink every other week. But the top 10 percent of drinkers in America consume over 10 drinks per day. That’s over 73 drinks in a week.

What this tells us is that over half of America either doesn’t drink, or drinks so rarely that they have less than a drink per week. In the meantime, the average drinks per day, per capita, if taking into consideration how much the whole nation drinks and splitting it evenly, we sit at about 9 drinks per week.

That doesn’t mean that 9 drinks per week are healthy, neither does it mean that 73 drinks per week immediately mean you’re an addict. A drink, by the way, is considered the rough equivalent of a single shot (1.5 oz), a single glass of wine (5 oz), or a single bottle of beer (12 oz). Note that alcohol content matters the most here, with a single drink corresponding to roughly 14g of pure alcohol.

According to the national Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men should be limited to two drinks per day, and women should be limited to one drink per day. However, countless news articles and studies contradict this, stating that drinking more often than thrice a week is a health hazard, and that drinking any alcohol at all is in fact detrimental to your health. It should be noted that the Dietary Guidelines clarify this by mentioning that if you don’t drink, you shouldn’t start.

So, what’s this all got to do with casual drinking? Not much, really. Rather, it’s to illustrate an important point:

 

It’s Not About the Amount

Casual alcohol use indicates any level of alcohol use that does not indicate alcohol misuse. This means casual drinking shouldn’t involve blacking out, vomiting, diarrhea, an upset stomach, excessive dizziness, shakiness, or delirium. Binge drinking, while technically referring to any alcohol use above the recommended amount, herein will be used to describe drinking more than a person is used to, moving past drunk and onto ill.

Everyone has a different alcohol tolerance level. This is determined by size, bodyfat, diet, health, age, drinking frequency, and genetics, among other factors. What might be too much for one person is barely enough to get tipsy for another, and so on. Understanding what your limit is can help you distinguish between casual or moderate alcohol use, and alcohol misuse. If you use alcohol to lighten the mood at a dinner, then it should be used more as an accompaniment to the food and conversation at the dinner table, than a means to tolerate an uncomfortable social occasion.

Alcohol use begins to veer off the side of moderation and towards “problem drinking” when drunkenness becomes a normal state of mind, when alcohol overuse symptoms become more frequent (including constant slurred speech, lack of restraint, dizziness, and memory problems), and when you continue to use alcohol despite clear legal and health issues. Once you realize that you can’t stop, you’ve reached the point of addiction.

 

Addiction Can Start at Any Time

A person can drink for years and not be an addict. Others get drunk the first few times in their early teens, and quickly find themselves dependent on booze. It’s difficult to predict whether addiction will happen or not, but a good indicator is when and how a person drinks. People who often drink to soothe themselves or go out drinking whenever they feel down are more likely to start relying on alcohol to the point that they become addicted to it.

Addiction is mostly a brain disorder, and it occurs physically rather than emotionally, but some people can be emotionally dependent on alcohol before they get physically hooked to the drug.

 

Identifying an Addiction in a Friend or Loved One

Identifying an addiction isn’t easy, especially if the addict knows how to cover their tracks. In the meantime, we might be quick to judge a friend for their alcohol use despite the fact that they aren’t addicted. You can drink on a daily basis and not be dependent on alcohol. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advise your friend to reconsider their hobby for the sake of their health. Alcohol overuse, even if not part of a problem with alcoholism, can wreak serious havoc on a person’s liver, stomach, brain, and body.

If you think you or your loved ones are struggling with alcohol and genuinely can’t stop, you need to seek help. A professional can help you figure out how to stop, and how to stay sober.

You Can’t Drink Your Problems Away

Don't Drink Problems Away

It’s a simple but unmistakable truth – no matter how much you try to forget something, you can’t change the fact that it happened. But what you can do is change what you’re doing about it.

Many people start drinking as a way to cope with their present or their past. Sometimes, we just need to take the edge off. Sometimes, we’ve had enough and just need to check out. But we have to be conscious of the fact that once we’ve had our break, we’re back in reality – with nothing having changed.

There’s no denying that a break is important every now and again. No one can take constant stress – we’re just not built for it. But replacing your problems with an endless streak of highs is not the way forward, either. It’s more likely that you’re just piling onto an existing list of problems with even more issues, and everyone who still associates with you is getting hurt in the process.

Once you realize that, the question becomes: how can you move forward? The right answer is not easy, but it is simple – you need help.

 

Why Self-Medication Never Works

Self-medication is the process of taking a drug without it having been prescribed to you. In some cases, this is illegal at best, and harmful at worst. Antidepressants aren’t addictive, but the reason you still need a prescription for them is because they can have a series of unintended consequences, and the oversight and assistance of a trained psychiatrist is necessary to help you find the right medication for your symptoms and diagnosis.

Other prescription drugs, like anti-anxiety medication and narcotic analgesics like Vicodin and Oxycontin, is much more harmful, because these drugs can get you addicted very quickly. Sometimes, people start self-medicating with drugs that aren’t really medicinal, from alcohol to recreational marijuana.

Drugs are drugs, regardless of whether they have an RX label or not. Medicine is meant to heal and help – and if you don’t have a diagnosis that requires a specific drug, and are just taking it to feel better, then at best you’re in for a short time spent feeling just a little bit better, and at worst, you’re going to start needing the drug on a daily basis just to feel a semblance of normality while everything around you devolves into chaos.

Despite the name, self-medication doesn’t treat anything adequately. While you do feel better for a while, the long-term consequences are more severe than if you had done nothing at all. This is best described as a maladaptive coping mechanism – it helps you cope to some degree, but it doesn’t help you solve your problem at hand.

 

Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Mechanisms

Other maladaptive coping mechanisms include going for illegal street races or speeding past local limits in nighttime joy rides, getting into fights, bullying others, engaging in otherwise risky behavior just to get off, or practicing self-harm. Any and all of these can be liberating and maybe even calming for a little while, but they can also leave you hurting even more.

Adaptive coping mechanisms are different. They help you cope, but they also help you either put yourself in a better position to solve your existing problems, or they directly contribute to solving your problems. Adaptive coping mechanisms include healthy levels of exercise, engaging in a paying hobby, creating art, writing in a journal, speaking to a friend or therapist about your issues, and making music.

One hurts you more, the other helps you feel better without putting you in harm’s way, or while even helping you with your situation.

Steadily eliminating maladaptive coping mechanisms while adopting healthier, adaptive coping mechanisms is an important part of being an adult, especially as we move past risky behavior to embrace ways of being that help us deal with all of the responsibilities and stress thrust onto us by life and others. But, not everyone can “steadily eliminate” their maladaptive coping mechanisms. If you’re seeing the bottom of a bottle (and the inside of a toilet bowl) more often than you’re seeing a resolution to your conflicts and issues, then you may have a drinking problem. Worse yet, if you can’t stop yourself no matter how much you want to, you’re likely addicted to the alcohol and have only added to a growing list of problems.

That’s when you need help. Asking for help is the first step in the right direction after struggling with addiction – this is not something you can just solve on your own, and even if you end up getting through it without professional help, it’ll take the support of your friends and loved ones to ride out the worst parts of recovery.

But past all that, you’ll still be facing your original stresses, problems, as well as anything new that might have cropped up in the meantime. When you can no longer resort to the drink (or any other kind of drug), it’s time to find better alternatives to help you cope.

 

Alternatives to Alcohol

Adaptive coping mechanisms have to just not hurt you or place you in even greater stress in exchange for a sweet but short ride. Many people get addicted because they start drinking excessively or using drugs out of a place of desperation rather than choice, but once you find the way out of that life, it’s even more important that you never find yourself in a situation where you’re going to have to plunge back in.

Start first by ensuring that you’ve got people who have your back. Relapses can be common in the early months of recovery, but even years after, it’s possible to slip up and go back to drinking if you’re having a particularly rough time and no good way to cope. Having friends there to keep you away from the bottle and help you out, even if just for a little while, is important. You need to learn to rely on others sometimes to get you out of a pickle. In exchange, be sure to be there and help them when they need you the most.

Good adaptive coping mechanisms combine a talent, interest, or hobby with something that’s likely to help you build off stress and unwind. Exercise is usually a good option, but it can be difficult to motivate yourself to hit the gym. Consider a form of exercise that you’re actually potentially passionate about, like dancing, or a competing sport.

If you’re more creatively oriented, then create. Take the time out of your day to dedicate an hour or so to making music, working on an art project, or writing articles or stories.

Drinking can help you forget that you have problems to begin with, but its only going to lead to more problems down the road. Pick coping mechanisms that help keep you sane and healthy, without being a cause for residential treatment and months of therapy.

 

Alcoholism Is Just as Deadly as Drug Abuse

Alcohol is Deadly

As a cultural icon, alcohol is one of the great mainstays of human civilization, alongside countless unique cuisines, and traditions of music, dance, and architecture. Almost every culture seemed to ferment crops and fruit for drink, at first by accident, or by influence. However, while we look at alcohol’s history through a glass of rosé, we have to realize that most drugs started this way.

Opium, although far more potent than your average spirit, was as important culturally as alcohol. Cannabis, natural hallucinogens like mushrooms and absinthe, and countless other drugs including coca and tobacco leaves have been discovered to not only evolve in use alongside human civilization, but they were used in prehistoric times as well.

We’re not the only animals to imbibe, either, as other animals purposefully consume fermented fruit and eat what might otherwise be hazardous to get a kick out of it. All this is to say that drugs are drugs, and alcohol is only one of several chemicals that we’ve relied on for millennia to have a “good time” – but that doesn’t change that it’s just as deadly as any other drug. In fact, alcohol is arguably one of the deadliest drugs in modern society.

 

Arguably the Deadliest

It’s important to specify that alcohol is considered one of, if not the most dangerous drug today due specifically due to the havoc it wreaks on society, as well as individuals. Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most carcinogenic drugs on the planet, and they’re also some of the most widespread, enjoying much more use – both casual and habitual use – than any other drug.

This is why alcoholism is considered the deadliest form of addiction. Because it is so widespread, binge drinking and heavy drinking have become serious issues, and as a result, the negative effects of alcohol are also significant and widespread. The correlation between alcohol being ubiquitous and the damage it can deal is correlated in Europe, which has higher rates of alcohol abuse and binge drinking among teens, as well as more alcohol-related deaths per capita. Individually, moderate to heavy alcohol use significantly increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, fatty liver, liver disease, stomach cancer, and stroke.

Societally, alcohol use correlates to higher workplace deaths, auto accidents due to impaired driving, as well as a statistical increase of domestic violence and general aggressive or violent behavior.

Note that it’s important to realize how context matters in these statistics and facts. While alcohol is linked to more violence, for example, it’s also important to distinguish correlation from causation. More alcohol in society means more violence. But on an individual level, this does not mean alcohol is the root of the aggressive behavior. As a depressant, alcohol lowers cognitive inhibitions, basically eliminating the anxieties that stand in the way between you and reckless behavior.

This means if you’re more likely to be aggressive in the first place – such as being very mad – alcohol removes the part of your thought process that usually has you thinking of the consequences of your actions, making it easier for you to rationalize beating someone, or being controlling, or acting out on your negative impulses. This is much more likely if you’re stressed, depressed, or highly agitated, and are drinking as a way to “deal with it”.

Alcoholism is just as serious of an issue as a heroin addiction, an addiction to cocaine, or a dependence on prescription meds. This matters for two reasons:

  1. There is a serious double-standard regarding the use of drugs, the dangers of addiction, and the casual availability and ubiquitous nature of alcohol. In terms of damage to the economy, loss of life, medical costs and general havoc, alcohol is bar none the most dangerous drug on the planet. However, we fail to recognize it as a deadly toxin. Up to 2.5 percent of teens under the age of 17 suffer from alcohol use disorder, as does 6.2 percent of the adult population (18+). Meanwhile, at least over half of Americans have had alcohol in the last month. This doesn’t mean the general use of alcohol should be vilified, but there is a cognitive dissonance between the realities of what a drug is, and the way Americans see drug use and the people who engage in drugs.

 

  1. While alcohol use is more casual and more common than the use of most other drugs (especially illicit drugs), there is still a large portion of people who see alcoholism as personal failing, and a character flaw, rather than as a sickness. Some people conflate addiction with the inability to make good choices due to a person’s own failure, rather than recognizing it as the inability to stop using due to the drug’s own influences. Others accept alcoholic behavior as normal and see both binge drinking and heavy drinking as acceptable. While it is true that not all heavy drinkers are addicts, heavy drinking often leads to alcoholism, or if not that, then any number of potentially fatal diseases.

 

Why Do We Drink So Much?

There are several reasons behind why alcohol is the biggest and most dangerous drug, the first being the fact that it is far more socially acceptable to drink than it is to do a line of coke or abuse painkillers. People are more likely to turn to alcohol than any other drug for emotional numbing, simply because it’s more readily available. Alcohol is also more toxic and arguably worse for the human body than many other substances, not because drugs like heroin and cocaine are significantly less deadly (as it is just as easy, if not easier to overdose), but because even moderate, controlled alcohol use is likely to affect your health in a statistically relevant way.

Alcohol is not as addictive as most opioids or stimulants, but it is still addictive. This is another reason why many Americans drink – some of them simply cannot stop. And because drinking often is not necessarily stigmatized, it can take years or a terrible event before drinking habits are recognized as a dangerous disease rather than an actual choice.

Thankfully, alcoholism is treatable. Physical dependence often means that you cannot readily choose to stop – but by getting help and treatment, especially at a residential facility or a sober living community, you can give your mind and body the time and resources they need to properly heal.

 

Combining Alcohol and Drugs Yields Deadly Results

Combining Alcohol and Drugs

We know that certain things don’t mix. But some things can react quite violently if put together. Bleach mixed with a strong acid produces deadly chlorine gas, for example, and taking certain medication with other medication can lead to fatal side effects.

NSAIDs can prolong bleeding in the body by inhibiting the formation of a chemical that aggregates platelets and helps in the clotting of blood cells and stopping of bleeds. Taking an NSAID with a blood thinner can be a very dangerous combination. And in the realm of addictive drugs, the use of several different drugs can yield deadly results.

 

How Alcohol Affects the Body

Alcohol is one of the most used drugs in the country, consumed at least once by an estimated 86 percent of American adults. Alcohol is older than humanity, some researchers posit, as evidence shows we may have been consuming alcohol in one form or another before the modern human showed up. In fact, we’re not the only species to enjoy booze deliberately, and addiction is not a problem unique to humans.

That being said, even after millennia of alcohol consumption, we haven’t necessarily learned to take our liquor very well. Alcohol is still destructive to the human body, and potentially very dangerous, leading to symptoms such as memory loss and lack of coordination before crossing over into dangerous territory, often causing death through automobile accidents and overdose.

Yet certain drugs can amplify the effects of alcohol or are amplified by alcohol.

 

Alcohol & Cocaine

Alcohol and cocaine, when mixed, form cocaethylene, a chemical that builds up in the liver for a very long time due to having a significantly increased plasma half-life, putting both the heart and liver under immense amounts of stress. This causes an overdose as a faster rate than taking the drugs separately, and also leaves lasting damage in both the heart and the liver. It carries an up-to 25-fold increase in risk for immediate death over cocaine.

 

Alcohol & Heroin

Heroin and other opiate drugs work very differently to alcohol yet possess many of the same qualities. Both drugs cause people to feel sluggish and drowsy, and both have the potential to stop a person’s heart and respiratory organs from functioning properly. Taken concurrently, the risk of that happening increases significantly. This goes for both heroin and other opiates, including prescription opiates. When taken together, heroin and alcohol significantly impair motor function and lead to a person potentially suffocating. Even surviving an overdose like that can leave lasting damage, as the central nervous system begins to die without oxygen, causing paralysis and other problems.

 

Alcohol & Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, has been a growing phenomenon in the US, overshadowed by the meteoric rise of opioid addiction and opioid overdose. On its own, methamphetamine ranks as one of the most dangerous and common stimulants in the world, because it is rather cheaply manufactured, requiring only a few precursor chemicals, and because it is far more potent than most other stimulants, including amphetamine (Adderall).

However, the risks that meth pose to the body are significantly amplified by alcohol usage. Meth with alcohol can lead to damage in the circulatory and nervous systems, hallucinations, psychosis (experiencing things that aren’t real), seizures, and a host of related issues due to cognitive impairment and emotional instability.

 

Alcohol & Marijuana

The main effect of combining alcohol with marijuana is that it significantly increases the length of a high, and the potency of a high. Because the liver prioritizes metabolizing alcohol before THC, the THC in your bloodstream ends up waiting in a queue of sorts, leading to a much longer high than usual. It also leads to significantly increased blood concentrations of THC.

Furthermore, THC is known for its antiemetic effects. These are often quite useful for terminally-ill patients and cancer patients going through chemotherapy, as antiemetic drugs prevent vomiting. However, when taken with alcohol, inhibiting the ability to vomit actually massively increases the risk of the drug. This makes it more difficult for the body to purge alcohol out of itself prior to an overdose.

 

Alcohol & Benzodiazepines

It’s crucial to recognize the dangers of combining depressant drugs. Drugs with similar effects often compound each other, leading to an additive effect. This means that combining two drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepine, which both affect the brain in similar ways, can be highly dangerous.

However, the results are rarely fatal. Instead, benzodiazepine plus alcohol points towards an entirely different sort of fatal mistake: most forms of benzodiazepine abuse and dependence also involve the concurrent use of alcohol.

Even if the drugs are rarely fatal, benzodiazepines when mixed with alcohol still become potentially fatal, while the drugs by themselves cannot usually cause an overdose without ingesting an extremely large amount of them. The effects of taking benzodiazepine and alcohol together include:

  • Fatigue
  • Impaired Cognition
  • Impaired Memory
  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Slurred Speech
  • Stumbling/Lack of Coordination

Benzodiazepine is used to treat severe anxiety symptoms, and while it can be addictive, it is generally considered low risk compared to other forms of anti-anxiety medication. Older, more potent sedatives such as barbiturates and tranquilizers are far more powerful, and far more dangerous. Mixing alcohol with stronger sedatives can cause slower heart rate and respiration, causing the body to slow down to the point where it no longer supports vital functions.

Drugs are dangerous, period. However, most Americans try an illegal drug at least once in their lifetime. That being said, only a fraction of them get addicted. The numbers seem to suggest that few people end up getting hooked on drugs – but the reality is that the factors that determine drug use and dependence are often uncontrollable. Genetic predisposition towards a certain drug accounts for a significant amount of the risk, meaning, while your friends might experiment with drugs without developing a habit out of it, you might find yourself struck more potently by a drug’s addictive potential. Stress, especially at a younger age, compounds the issue and makes it worse.

Research also suggests that a significant amount of people hooked on a substance are often using more than one drug, together. The interactions between certain substances can at times be fatal, and without the right knowledge, taking the wrong two drugs can lead to death. It’s important to recognize how certain drugs interact especially with alcohol, as it is arguably the most ubiquitous drug in the world.

 

Confronting Someone with A Drinking Problem

Confronting Someone About Drinking

Roughly one in eight Americans is alcoholic, and another eighth of the country struggles with high-risk drinking. These facts present an America that has a serious drinking problem – and as a result, most people in America know one or more people who struggle to properly manage and moderate their alcohol consumption and keep it to a responsible level.

Confronting someone about their drinking is very difficult. Some people are highly defensive, seeing drinking as a refuge from responsibility and a way to unwind – a treat they deserve after hours of stress and frustration. Others are acutely aware that their drinking is problematic, and it is a cause for great shame to them – making it a particularly sensitive topic.

Sometimes, a person might try to deflect from their drinking, through jokes or otherwise. It’s natural to be apprehensive about the topic of addiction – for many in the public, addiction is seen as a disease brought on by a lack of inhibition. In other words, someone who is addicted is often gluttonous or morally bankrupt, and the two concepts – addiction and moral failure – are difficult to divorce in the minds of many. As such, few people would ever want to admit to an alcohol problem, or an addiction.

Getting someone to realize they have a problem is only possible if they’re convinced of the severity of their situation, and the possible consequences it can bring. Addiction is a disease, but it’s a treatable one. Many alcohol addiction treatment centers dot the country, working hard to help patients get clean, stay clean, and learn how to live clean lives. If you’re worried someone you know, or love is struggling with a drinking problem, then approaching them about it will be a challenge. But if you’re prepared, you may be able to get through to them.

 

Defining a Drinking Problem

A drinking problem is also known as alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder. Because alcohol is an addictive substance, people who consume alcohol are at risk for developing an emotional and/or physical dependence on the drug. There are ways to recognize a drinking problem. These are predominantly:

  • Drinking more than intended.
  • Unable to stop drinking, or even cut back.
  • Drinking regularly, especially to relax or unwind.
  • Being permanently drunk, with very little time spent sober.
  • Struggling to maintain a job or follow through with responsibilities and commitments.
  • Missing social occasions and withdrawing from others.
  • Irritability and/or depressive symptoms while sober.

The characteristics for a drinking problem are the inability to stop despite wanting to and struggling to cut back despite clear and severe consequences, from people getting hurt emotionally, to relationships coming apart, and careers ending.

Contrary to popular belief, an addict does not have to hit rock bottom to begin treatment. In fact, it’s much better to treat an alcohol use disorder as quickly and as soon as possible. The trick is convincing your loved one or friend that they have a problem – but you needn’t wait until they’ve hit rock bottom to do that, either.

 

What to Say and What Not to Say

When speaking to someone who may have an alcohol use disorder, it helps to know what kind of language best comes across as helpful, and what kind of language is likely to shut down any kind of amicable or honest conversation. Consider:

  • Pointing out behavior that worries you, not out of judgment but out of loving concern.
  • Express how you feel, and don’t assume how they feel. Stick to “I” rather than “we”.
  • Do not preach to them or claim a moral high ground of any kind.
  • Do not try to tell them how their drinking is statistically destructive, or negative in any abstract way – focus instead on real examples of behavior that worries you, rather than behavior they haven’t exhibited.
  • Do not threaten or beg them to stop.
  • Do not expect them to get better on their own.

 

Suggest Help

The most critical part you must play in all of this is to convince your loved one or friend that they need help. Ultimately, it’s their choice – but remind them that their actions are not taking place in a bubble. What they do affects those around them, and if their drinking has escalated to a level where it is becoming emotionally, financially, and physically harmful to others, it’s important to make them aware of that fact and help them find someone to treat the condition.

Start by consulting your doctor or find a nearby specialist in addiction medicine. Look for treatment facilities and sober living homes in the area.

 

Watch Your Own Health

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, then you are intimately affected by their condition. It can be very difficult to support someone through recovery, and it can be ever harder to see them relapse, lose hope, and become frustrated. Yet with your support, your loved one will be able to cut their addiction loose and live a better life – if they continue to stay committed to their sobriety, despite initial setbacks and bumps.

As time goes on, however, this can take its toll on people. Partners, children, parents, and friends alike will find moments of frustration, fear, and helplessness in the face of relentless addiction. Maintaining the flame of hope can be exhausting, and sometimes, you will truly believe it’s gone out.

That is why it’s important you have someone to lean on, as well. Recovery is one of life’s many challenges, but challenge has a million different names. If you cannot manage to maintain a healthy mindset, it’s important to take a step back and consider your own health. Consider your priorities and your responsibilities and consider how you may be able to reduce the burden you’re experiencing. It’s important to be honest about these things – ignoring your own mental health to support someone else is irresponsible and dangerous and could cause you to plummet into your own downward spiral.

Take measures to reduce excess stress, delegate tasks and responsibilities, seek out help and support, and take time regularly to care for yourself and your own needs and interests. If you can’t function as a healthy human being, then you can’t support your loved one through their challenges either. If possible, lean on each other and give each other strength. Many addicts need help – but the ability to help others despite the addiction can be a powerful source for self-affirmation and hope. Giving feels better than getting, after all.

 

Recognizing Alcoholism in Your Family Members

Alcoholism in Family Members

Alcoholism can be a terrible disease, but it’s frighteningly common in the United States. More than just a drinking problem, alcoholism is a total addiction or dependence on alcohol. When a person is dependent on a substance, their behavior changes to fit their new priorities, which can often have dire consequences for them and those around them.

Worse yet, addiction often suggests a history of substance problems. Research suggests that genetics play a large part in the risk factors surrounding brain diseases like alcoholism. While it’s important that the nature of statistics ignores the fact that individuals are unique in nature and shouldn’t be grossly generalized, it’s also important to recognize that if alcoholism is present in your family, there is a greater chance that you or someone else will develop the habit as well.

Knowing what alcoholism looks like is the first step to helping a family member seek the help they need to get better. Addictions are not solved overnight, and dependence on a substance often leads to dangerous and significant withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings, requiring treatment clinics and medical attention to safely transition from addiction to long-term sobriety.

 

What Alcoholism Looks Like

Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is a condition where the brain develops a dependency on alcohol. This dependency is characterized first by tolerance, and second by withdrawal symptoms.

Tolerance is when you need more of something to experience the same effect. If you need to drink more to get a buzz, chances are that your brain is working hard to normalize the effects of alcohol, pushing the body into overtime to metabolize the drug faster than it used to. On the other hand, it’s also adapting to a regular flow of alcohol, meaning you begin to experience adverse physical effects if you stop drinking.

Other signs of alcoholism include:

  • Losing control over your drinking.
  • Wanting to quit but being unable to.
  • Requiring alcohol to deal with life.
  • Prioritizing a drink over the things you used to care about.
  • Putting yourself or others in harms way with your drinking.

 

Why Alcoholism Can Run in the Family

It’s estimated that addiction is about half genes, half environmental. This is a significant split. It’s true that people with addiction in the family are exposed to it, often early on, shaping their relationship with problems, and the use of drugs for problem-solving. But this is an environmental risk rather than a genetic risk, suggesting that this does not affect a person’s chances of getting addicted as much as their genes do.

So why do we turn to addiction more often if others in the family decide to drink away their problems? Because our genes are an evolutionary tool to help each generation survive on the planet. The issue with that is that addiction can be considered something of an evolutionary oversight, although that’s not entirely accurate. We are addicted to things because they mess with our dopamine-based reward system, which is inherently used to make us crave certain foods, look for sex, and generally “enjoy” things. This was a big advantage in the days of early man, but it’s easily exploited nowadays. A preference for alcohol becomes hardwired in the brain, and is passed on through the genes, little by little, over generations.

But risk is risk, not destiny. There is no such thing as predestined addiction, and if you have not developed alcoholism, there is no reason to believe you will. If someone else in your family has, you can still help them get better.

 

Getting Help for Alcoholism

The help an alcoholic requires depends on the severity and length of their addiction. Long-term, very heavy drinkers will require medical assistance throughout the first few days, as alcohol withdrawal can be very painful and potentially fatal. It also takes time for alcohol to completely flush out of the system, and even more time for withdrawal to complete.

Once detox and withdrawal are over, the cravings can kick in. Rehab is a good place to start because it puts people in an environment without temptation and helps them work through the issues surrounding their addiction, from personal problems to family history, and codependent mental illnesses like depression.

Sober living homes are another option, either as a first choice or as a way to transition from rehab into regular living with a much lower chance of relapse afterward.

 

Sober Living for Alcoholism

Addiction treatment begins with abstinence. You simply stop drinking. That’s not necessarily difficult. What’s difficult is maintaining that abstinence past the initial few days of sobriety.

Sober living homes are perfect for individuals who have made it through the withdrawal period but still need help staying sober. The urge to drink is strong, especially out of rehab, when transitioning from rehab life into regular life. Life is full of expectations, responsibilities, hardships, and challenges. As individuals, we commit ourselves to family and friends, to interacting socially with one another, to engaging in relationships despite risk of severe emotional pain.

Pain lurks around every corner in the real world – but only the risk of it, the potential of it. Alternatively, we can find happiness in every single day, hidden away where we might not usually look. Keeping your life open to opportunities and embracing them fully is the only way to live a full life, but that means experiencing pain from time to time when things don’t go your way.

With a history of addiction, coping with this pain without relapsing is very difficult. But sober living homes are meant to help you do that, by reintroducing vital aspects of life outside of the treatment facility without dropping the most important rule: no drugs. At a sober living home or community, you’re guaranteed a drug-free living space, but are still expected to play a part in the community, help out, maintain a job or going to school, cultivate a skill or enjoy a hobby, and regularly go to group meetings to socialize and discuss.

Anything new can be difficult to deal with, and with a history of addiction, too many difficult things all at once can create the perfect temptation for drinking. But by living in a sober community, that option disappears, and you’re left with healthier alternative stress management techniques, from therapy to exercise, art, or meditation. With time, these techniques become your primary way to cope with life’s challenges as memories of addiction fall into the background, and your recovery from addiction will be essentially complete.

 

Health Risks Associated with Alcohol

alcohol health risks

Alcohol is one of mankind’s oldest vices, dating back millennia to a time before writing. Yet despite being an ancient tradition in countless cultures, it is not necessarily a wise one: research shows that even a minute amount of alcohol can have long-term health effects, and that any possible benefits gained through moderate alcohol use are typically overshadowed by the negatives of alcohol in the human body.

Another problem that presents itself is that many people do not drink moderately – while most don’t often engage in dangerous binge drinking, a sizeable portion of the population consumes way too much alcohol way too fast, leading to a large list of health hazards down the line.

Culturally, alcohol – especially in large amounts – is a common part of social festivities in many places around the world. But by better understanding the risks of drinking too much – and drinking at all – we might be able to give people a chance to turn a sober eye at the realities of booze and how it affects the nation, and every individual, physically and mentally.

 

Alcohol is Not Healthy

The common misconception that a moderate amount of alcohol can be good for you is, ultimately, a dispelled myth. Alcohol is always a risk, and while moderate amounts are less risky than excessive ones, drinking alcohol always means increasing your risk of certain health conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

Lifestyle choices have a massive impact on our health – what you choose to put into your body and how you choose to treat your body play big roles in your health especially as your age advances.

Staying active not only staves off heart related illnesses, but reduces the pain associated with age-related arthritis, reduces back pain, and relieves mobility issues from stiff joints and immobile tendons.

What you eat and what vices you indulge in reduce or increases your chance of STDs, cancers, and various other illnesses. And alcohol, if taken at all, can influence your heart, brain, liver, and lifespan.

 

How Alcohol Affects the Heart

The heart pumps blood through the body but struggles to do so when some of the blood vessels it’s pumping through become blocked. Unhealthy lifestyle choices, including excessive alcohol consumption, lead to increased plaque in the bloodstream, thus increasing blood pressure and leading to a higher risk of heart failure, as well as cardiac arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, and sudden death.

There has been a series of articles in the past describing the benefits of red wine for the heart, but further research suggests there’s more to the link than meets the eye. The link between heart health and red wine was established due to the “French paradox”, which suggested that the French, despite high rates of fat and dairy in their diet, had less of a history of heart disease.

However, newer research shows that French and American rates of heart disease are closer than previously thought, possibly due to a time lag – while Americans and British have had higher rates of heart disease and obesity due to increased animal fat consumption, the French are catching up. Another possibility is that many of the benefits associated with the French diet may be due to their general Mediterranean food habits – i.e. a diet rich in organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fish. These habits are disappearing in an increasingly urban France, leading to higher rates of obesity and heart disease.

 

How Alcohol Affects the Liver

People have recognized a link between liver failure and alcohol consumption more than two centuries ago, and modern research has backed it up thoroughly. The liver is highly susceptible to excessive alcohol consumption because it is the main organ with which the body processes alcohol.

Alcohol is not a healthy substance – as the body breaks it down, very dangerous byproducts are created in the liver, increasing the risk of cancer and damaging the liver itself. Because the liver is paramount to keeping us alive when we ingest something we shouldn’t, it has outstanding regenerative properties, to the point that you can donate portions of your liver and have them grow back.

However, too much alcohol will irreparably damage your liver, causing cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis.

 

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Not only does alcohol affect the heart and liver, but it has a serious effect on the brain – especially in the long term. Alcohol consumption gradually shrinks the hippocampus, messing with reasoning, risk-assessment, and memory. Meanwhile, it’s mimicry of the GABA neurotransmitter affects your balance and social inhibition, while temporarily lowering anxieties in low dosages.

All in all, long-term alcohol usage cuts into your ability for critical thinking, causes frequent blackouts in memory, affects your reward system increasing the risk of addiction, and slows your reaction times, causing you to appear sluggish and slurred.

 

The Risk of Addiction with Alcohol

Alcohol is an addictive drug, like nicotine, cocaine, and opioids. Due to the sheer volume of alcohol in America and the role it plays culturally, it is also one of the more dangerous addictive drugs, because it is so difficult to avoid. An addiction to alcohol – or alcoholism – severely increases health risk because of an addiction’s nature to consistently consume alcohol. Addiction, however, is not a direct evolution of binge drinking, which remains to be the highest cause of alcohol-related deaths from alcohol poisoning to traffic accidents. Many people binge drink without getting addicted, yet still endanger their lives and those of others.

Some argue that the stress-reducing effects of alcohol in moderate amounts may make it healthier for people with highly stressful lifestyles, but this is a flawed way of looking at the problem.

For one, alcohol can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression in the long-term, contributing to the development of stress-related diseases, alongside hypertension and heart disease. Most people with stressful lifestyles tend to “go big” in all things, including consumption, making alcohol a bad source of stress-relief due to all its other health factors.

Ultimately, the best way to relieve stress is to lead a less stressful life. Someone willingly living a high-stress lifestyle must confront the risk that lifestyle inherently possesses, and there is no good way to increase longevity when you’re overworking yourself – other than to cut back on everything.

As in all things, the choice is yours – and this is a recommendation, not a commandment. Alcohol will not definitely destroy your life, but it should be treated like any other drug: with caution.

 

How Excessive Alcohol Use Damages Your Body & Mind

Problems With Alcoholism

Heroin and prescription opiates alone have caused roughly over 45,000 deaths in the last year, accounting for the majority of overdose deaths in America. For the past year, headlines regarding the opioid crisis have warned, time and time again, that this is a growing and catastrophic issue for society. Countless articles recount how the prescription drug market and growth in the illegal production and distribution of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl all played a part in the tragedy.

The opioid crisis is real and has been a medical and societal issue for years, now reaching a critical point. However, it is just as critical to remember that opioids are not the only issue here.

Drug use is prevalent throughout the US not solely because of faulty laws, but because of a widespread cascade of issues going back decades. In terms of lives claimed and damage dealt, dangerous and lethal drug isn’t fentanyl – it’s alcohol.

Rather, it’s the excessive consumption of alcohol. Alcohol use claimed about 88,000 lives per year before 2010, being responsible for about 10 percent of all deaths in adults aged 20-64 – a massive percentage of the population. People use alcohol on social occasions to celebrate special moments, and to toast to one another – but many use it to cope with personal and financial issues, drown out deep sorrows, or unwind after a hard day’s work, drinking more and more until the drinking can’t stop.

Sometimes, alcohol use leads to disease. More often, it is the cause for road and work accidents. And then there are times where years of alcohol use lead to alcoholism, and the inability to cut off from the drink – a deadly and serious addiction.

Alcohol is ingrained in society, as the prohibition proved. But binge drinking and excess consumption does not have to be a major issue. Stopping teens from binge drinking and helping both children and adults understand that legal drugs like prescription medication and alcohol require careful and responsible consideration is important. These measures have already helped cut back on the damage alcohol does, reducing deaths caused by alcohol year after year.

To further understand why it’s important to find ways to cut back immediately, it’s important to see what happens under the hood when alcohol makes its way through the body on the regular.

 

More Than Just the Liver

Even at “reasonable” or “responsible” levels, alcohol use will take years off your body’s biological clock. There is no way around this fact – while research previously hinted at the possibility of alcohol as part of a healthy and balanced diet, there is very little research currently valid that suggests this is true. At the very most, a small amount of alcohol here and there can protect the heart from a heart attack. But in most cases, alcohol consumption – even moderate consumption – raises the risk of other diseases and can lead to a quicker death.

But excessive alcohol consumption has very clear physical consequences. Aside from viciously attacking the liver – the organ that goes through the trouble of filtering and metabolizing alcohol – alcohol also damages the heart, the brain, and the pancreas, while potentially kickstarting cancer in the mouth, throat, breast, and liver.

Brain damage through alcohol consumption leads to lapses in memory, trouble concentrating, changes in mood and behavior, as well as permanent problems with both coordination and critical thinking/rationalization, leading to tremors and reduced cognitive capabilities.

 

Alcohol and Mental Impairment

We have discussed how excessive alcohol use can severely damage the organs of the human body and leave us mentally struggling – compromising how we think, reason, and remember things in our lives.

But more than that, alcohol also has a direct effect on our interactions with other people, ranging from mildly positive effects to wildly dangerous and lethal. While it is a myth that alcohol is guaranteed to make you more aggressive or angry, alcohol does lower your inhibitions, thus cutting down on the amount of thought and consideration put into any action. There is a reason alcohol was often referred to as “liquid courage” – in a way, it takes away fear and anxiety. But there are many times when fear and anxiety keep us from doing very dangerous things, including instigating violence when provoked or otherwise threatened, or agreeing to situations that end up in injury, or worse, death.

Alcohol also impairs a person’s ability to move, both on their feet, and in the operation of heavy machinery. This can lead to accidents in the workplace, on the highway, and elsewhere. Sometimes it’s as innocent as a trip down a small flight of stairs, with some bruising and no broken bones – at other times, it can cause a tragic collision or end in amputations and death at construction sites and in shipping yards.

 

Get Help Today

From liver cirrhosis to heart failure, throat cancer, car wrecks and brain damage, alcohol has a long list of very dangerous side effects associated with long use. No matter how normal it might seem to consume more than the CDC recommends – and no matter how much you may believe your tolerance allows your body to drink much more than is ever recommended – if you binge drink often or generally consume excessive amounts of alcohol, then it is safe to say that you are at risk for a life tragically cut short. Or, worse yet, several lives tragically cut short.

We are all in control, and totally accountable for our actions – until we are not, and everything is suddenly where it should never be. Do not wait until it’s far too late and get help. Treatment exists, and it works. From talk therapy for overcoming emotional pain associated with self-medicating through alcohol, to treatments that specialize in helping you cut alcohol out of your life and make it through withdrawal symptoms alive, there are countless clinics with residential and outpatient programs to help you accommodate addiction treatment and therapy into your life. Sober living homes give you a chance to adjust to living without the drink in a temptation-free environment, where you can work and interact with others who are on a similar path.

There are countless ways to treat alcoholism and put you on a straight path towards better health. And there is no way that excessive alcohol leads to a good end.

 

How Alcohol Impairs Judgment

Alcohol Impairs Judgment

You only need one statistic to be convinced of the damage alcohol wreaks on society. Every single day, an estimated 29 people die in the United States due to car accidents involving alcohol. Drunk driving kills one person roughly every 50 minutes, and over a million Americans were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence. Fortunately, drunk driving fatalities have decreased by over 50% since 1982, indicating a downward trend despite the high death toll.

Aside from car accident-related deaths, it’s also important to note that one in six US adults consumes excessive alcohol about once a week, with a total of roughly 7 drinks per session. This is classified as binge drinking, and massively increases a person’s risk of injury, death, and disease.

Outside of these dangers, there is also a percentage of the population that succumbs to alcohol dependency, or alcoholism. This affects about 16 million Americans.

While the opioid crisis continues to rage on and overdose deaths caused by both prescription pills and illegal heroin call for a closer look, there are plenty of other drugs causing chaos in the US. Marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine are just a few illegal drugs claiming lives, usually through accidents or overdoses – yet when counting fatalities caused by intoxication, alcohol still sits at the top of the list.

Many factors make alcohol one of the more dangerous substances in America, yet to understand why it is something to be worried about, it is important to know what alcohol does to the mind and body.

 

Alcohol is a Poison

There were studies not too long ago linking certain types of alcohol to longevity and good health, although these could not conclusively make the link between alcohol and a longer lifespan, instead leading news outlets to promote the news based solely off correlation.

Since then, extensive research has been done to study the effects of alcohol on human bodies even in moderation, and the consensus seems to be simple: any alcohol at all will shave time off your life expectancy and will generally negatively impact your health. There are very minor exceptions to this – for example, while moderate or small alcohol consumption still increases the likelihood of heart failure, it is statistically protective against heart attacks. Something also has to be said for the fact that alcohol is a depressant – this means it helps people relax and unwind, releasing physical and mental tension that, if left unchecked, may lead to something ugly down the line.

Other benefits, previously attributed to red wine, may in fact simply be attributed to the red pigment in grapes and grape juice, rather than the wine.

If looked at objectively, alcohol – more specifically ethanol, also known as grain alcohol – is not something we are meant to ingest. And yet we do, and we often ingest too much of it against our better judgment.

The first clue on why alcohol is dangerous lies in how it affects the human mind – while alcohol is a depressant, it also suppresses several functions in the brain, inducing slurred speech, lack of balance, slower reaction times and greatly decreased cognitive ability. Alcohol lowers inhibition and cuts into a person’s ability to make calculated decisions. With enough alcohol, the mind loses parts of its memory, leading to mental black outs where entire hours are missing due to heavy drinking.

 

How Alcoholism Deteriorates Thinking

The exact effects of alcohol on the brain depend on a person’s age, sex, size (and bodyfat), genetic background and general alcohol tolerance, which is built up by drinking regularly. Everyone has a different threshold, however at some point we all reach a “tipsy” stage and a “drunk” stage. Everything past the drunk stage can be dangerous, leading up to alcohol poisoning.

Signs of excessive drinking include memory lapse and blackouts, but alcohol damages more than just the part of the brain responsible for remembering things. Aside from memory, alcohol consumption affects critical thinking, problem solving, risk aversion, behavioral inhibition, and more. Over the course of a few drinks, your cognitive abilities decline, and your physical abilities diminish as well.

Sex drive and libido generally go up, while sexual performance drastically drops. Swaying is normal as well, as people generally struggle to stand upright after heavy drinking. Some brain damage from alcohol consumption comes not only from the alcohol itself, but from malnutrition and poor sleep – both of which are often attributed or connected to alcoholism, or drug use in general.

 

Recovery is a Physical and Mental Journey

Coming off an alcohol addiction can be more dangerous than coming off almost any other drug. Alongside tranquilizers, sedatives and depressants like benzodiazepine, the withdrawal symptoms for alcohol are severe and potentially fatal. It is critical to approach a medical professional if you are going to go sober, so your withdrawal can be overseen by a staff in a clinic to ensure that you live through the first night.

Past that, it takes up to slightly over a year for much of the brain damage caused by alcoholism to fade away. Damage done to the body can never be completely reversed, but it is possible to regain most of your mental faculties bar any significant trauma or damage caused by accidents related to the drinking.

Aside from the brain, alcohol also attacks the liver and heart – with diligent abstinence from drugs and a very healthy, balanced diet, it is possible to give the liver the break it needs to regenerate and make up for the heart damage enough to live to a ripe old age before the ticker gives out.

Not drinking alcohol is a task that takes a lifetime. Sobriety must be maintained every day – but while the first few months can seem grueling and at times impossible, especially with new stressors and unfamiliar territory, it does get much easier with time. Instead of counting the days until that happens, try to focus on something else. Find a new hobby. Work on making some new friends. Explore town and try things out that you never had the chance to try.

If you’re having fun, time goes by much faster.

Alcoholism And Its Relationship To You

Alcoholism

The numbers state that about one in every eight American adults struggles with alcoholism. While not as immediately threatening as the opioid crisis, which has skyrocketed in recent years, the media focus on prescription drugs and heroin as a leading menace has allowed the growing threat of alcoholism to fly under the radar, for the most part.

One big issue with recognizing the problems presented by alcohol consumption is that there still exists a reigning misconception that alcohol, specifically in small or moderate amounts, is good for a person’s health and well-being.

The truth is that alcohol is the most dangerous legal drug in the world, both because of its long-term effects on the mind and body, and because it is widespread economically and culturally.

Like any drug, consuming a little bit of alcohol is not guaranteed to cause havoc in your life. But it does put you at risk for alcoholism, a dangerous disease with lasting physical consequences. Understanding alcohol and alcoholism can give a greater insight into why the issue is so pervasive, and how individuals and families can best cope with it.

 

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is characterized by an inability to slow or stop the personal consumption of alcohol despite clear and unavoidable signs of self-destructive behavior. A person with alcoholism may initially deny their condition and their behavior, out of fear of addiction stigma or other similar reasons.

Alcoholism is rooted in a variety of factors and can manifest for a large variety of reasons. In all cases, alcoholism involves a significant dependence on alcohol, either physically, emotionally, or both. Why or how the dependence began is different from person to person, with common factors including genetic predisposition, socioeconomic background, mental health, and excessive stress or trauma.

Like any other form of addiction, alcoholism can take its toll on individuals and families alike – and like any other form of addiction, it can be treated if viewed as a disease rather than a personal flaw. The specifics of treatment depend on a person’s circumstances and the nature of their addiction, but all addiction treatment centers on helping patients stay sober and recover from relapses.

 

Is Alcohol Bad?

Too much of anything is bad, but there are certain risks associated with alcohol that are not present on other indulgences like sugar, chocolate, or even caffeine.

An alcoholic beverage is any substance made for human consumption containing ethanol. Distilled from grains and fruits with a high sugar content, like barley, and grapes, and starches like potato and corn, alcohol drinks have been brewed for millennia, and distilled for almost as long. Although we are the only species that purposefully produces alcoholic drinks, we are not the only species to indulge in ethanol, or other drugs for that matter.

In low to moderate doses, alcohol produces what most call a “buzz”, leading to “tipsy” behavior – in reaction to the ethanol, the brain calms you down and lowers anxiety (by being a depressant), as well as lowering inhibition and messing with your motor skills, causing you to eventually slur your speech and lose balance. As consumption continues, you approach drunkenness, which involves a loss of certain mental inhibitions and controls, affecting several regions in the brain differently.

In the cerebral cortex, alcohol slows down the processing of sensory information, making you generally slower and affecting your ability to think. In the pituitary gland, alcohol increase sexual arousal, but decreases sexual performance due to low blood glucose and a loss in fine motor skills. In the cerebellum, alcohol causes you to sway and lose balance, swaggering despite best efforts to maintain physical composure. And in the medulla, alcohol induces a relaxing, sedative effect.

Taken in excessive amounts, alcohol leads to loss of memory and increasing physical and mental effects, such as an inability to calculate risk or stay on your feet. Finally, a near-fatal or fatal amount of alcohol leads to alcohol poisoning, which begins with nausea and vomiting, and leads to respiratory distress and death.

Alongside the various short-term effects of alcohol consumption, regular alcohol consumption also carries a long list of long-term consequences, even if consumed responsibly (i.e. no binge drinking, less than 7-14 drinks per week). Regular alcohol consumption increases the risk of esophageal cancer, heart failure, liver cirrhosis and fatty liver, chronic gastritis, pancreatitis, and diabetes. Alcohol also adds on pounds due to being a source of empty calories, usually leading to weight gain. Regular alcohol consumption also increases the risk of alcoholism or may indicate an existing problem with alcohol addiction.

Heavy drinkers suffer an even greater risk, cutting up to five years off their life expectancy, and raising the risk of dangerous conditions such as cancer and heart failure.

Enjoyed occasionally during festive or celebratory occasions, alcohol is unlikely to do much harm, unless consumed in excess. However, if your family has a history with addiction – alcohol addiction in particular – then abstinence is much safer. Even without an existing history of alcoholism, regular alcohol consumption can be very dangerous, and in the best-case scenario still damages the body.

 

Social Drinking vs. Addiction

Getting drunk does not equate to having an addiction. Doing regrettable things while drunk also is not a clear indication of an addiction. While many people drink often and copiously, an addiction specifically refers to the inability to stop drinking, especially when the person in question wants to stop.

Regular consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol can eventually pose a threat to your longevity and increase the risk of certain diseases, but otherwise it is culturally acceptable, and can be one way to highlight celebratory moments in life. But regular binge drinking and other behavior that either implies or confirms an addiction is highly problematic, not only posing major health risks and thereby endangering a person’s life, but affecting other people, friends, and families, and even strangers as public drunkenness can lead to terrible accidents and tragedies.

While drinking alcohol regularly is socially acceptable, modern medicine shows that it is not healthy. Health benefits previously associated with alcohol are better attributed to a balanced and healthy diet of fats, sugars, and proteins alongside polyphenol-rich foods and nutrient-rich ingredients, such as herbs and leafy vegetables. Further study into what was previously called the French paradox may be contradicting previous findings, and it is best to treat alcohol as a potentially dangerous indulgence rather than an essential part of healthy, wholesome living.

 

Treating Alcoholism

Like other addictions, alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism is treated through a targeted and individually-tailored treatment plan, dependent on a person’s circumstances, needs, and abilities. Psychotherapy and abstinence-based programs are typical parts of a treatment process, recommending that patients stay at a dedicated clinic or sober living home to avoid alcohol during the early periods of their recovery.

Over time, dealing with alcoholism and maintaining long-term sobriety does become easier. It is up to each individual to decide when that time has come, however.