Understanding Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Any single cause for alcoholism and alcohol abuse cannot be given as to why some individuals become tangled with dependence or addiction. However, there are varying influences and/or factors as to why. Some of these include: biological factors, social factors, childhood factors, emotional wellbeing, and even genetics. Some ethnic communities, such as American Indians and Native Alaskans, have a higher risk than others of developing alcohol addiction or abuse issues. It has been seen that people who have a family history of alcoholism or who connect closely with heavy drinkers in their social life have a higher risk in developing drinking related problems in their life. Still others who are afflicted with mental health problems such as nervousness, depression, bipolar or borderline disorders also have an increased risk of abuse, because alcohol is often used to self-medicate.
Do you have a problem with Alcohol?
You may have a drinking problem if you…
- Experience guilt or shame regarding your drinking.
- Engage in lying or hiding the truth about your drinking.
- Have friends or family members who worry about your drinking behavior.
- Require a drink in order to relax or feel better.
- Experience “black outs” or lapses of no memory during the time you were drinking.
- Frequently drink more than you planned to.
Since drinking is so widespread in the world today, and differs from culture to culture, person to person it’s not always easy to determine the difference between social drinking and problem drinking. The bottom line is no one can decided for you. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have littlecontrol over the amount you take, you probably have a drinking problem.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse
Experts in the field of substance abuse differentiate between alcohol abuse and alcoholism (also termed alcohol dependence). It has been seen that alcohol abusers, have, in some instances, the capability to set limits on their drinking. However, their alcohol use is still self-destructive and dangerous to everyone around them including themselves.
Common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
Continually neglecting your responsibilities with family, occupation, or education because of your drinking. For example, showing up late for work, performing poorly in classes, withholding time or affection from your kids or family, or forgetting about or lying to get out on commitments because you’re hung over.
Using alcohol in situations that can be fatal, such as driving while intoxicated, operating machinery after having been drinking, or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor’s orders.
Experiences trouble with the legal system as a result of your drinking. For example, getting arrested for driving under the influence or for drunk and disorderly conduct.
Continuing to use alcohol even though your drinking is causing problems in your relationships. Getting drunk with your buddies, for example, even though you have to committed to picking up your kids or wife from school or work, or fighting with your family because they dislike how you act when you drink.
Using drinking as a means to relax. While on occasion this method may not lead to alcohol abuse, often times alcohol problems begin when people use drinking as a way to self-soothe or self-medicate. If the habit continues, and an individual begins to exhibit this behavior after every stressful day, or after every argument they may have, a drinking problem will most likely form.
Below are five common myths of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. While these are few of many myths believed, these ones are incredibly common among society. These myths were found on http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/alcoholism-and-alcohol-abuse.htm.
Five Myths About Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Myth #1 : I can stop drinking anytime I want to.
Maybe you can; more likely, you can’t. Either way, it’s just an excuse to keep drinking. The truth is, you don’t want to stop. Telling yourself you can quit makes you feel in control, despite all evidence to the contrary and no matter the damage it’s doing.
Myth #2 : My drinking is my problem. I’m the one it hurts, so no one has the right to tell me to stop.
It’s true that the decision to quit drinking is up to you. But you are deceiving yourself if you think that your drinking hurts no one else but you. Alcoholism affects everyone around you—especially the people closest to you. Your problem is their problem.
Myth #3 : I don’t drink every day, so I can’t be an alcoholic OR I only drink wine or beer, so I can’t be an alcoholic.
Alcoholism is NOT defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. It’s the EFFECTS of your drinking that define a problem. If your drinking is causing problems in your home or work life, you have a drinking problem—whether you drink daily or only on the weekends, down shots of tequila or stick to wine, drink three bottles of beers a day or three bottles of whiskey.
Myth #4 : I’m not an alcoholic because I have a job and I’m doing okay.
You don’t have to be homeless and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down jobs, get through school, and provide for their families. Some are even able to excel. But just because you’re a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself or others in danger. Over time, the effects will catch up with you.
Myth #5 : Drinking is not a “real” addiction like drug abuse.
Alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is every bit as damaging as drug addiction. Alcohol addiction causes changes in the body and brain, and long-term alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on your health, your career, and your relationships. Alcoholics go through physical withdrawal when they stop drinking, just like drug users do when they quit.