I am Not an Alcoholic, I Just Like to Have A Few Drinks with Friends
How many times have you said that? If you have said it at all, you must be thinking that you may have a problem. In fact, if you are reading this, you must be considering the fact that you may be an alcoholic. It is quite common, in fact, one in every 12 adults in the United States have some form of alcohol dependence. That is over 17 million people. There is so much advertising about having fun with your friends while drinking at a party, baseball game, or camping, that it is pretty common. What else is common is alcoholism ruining lives.
What Is Alcoholism or Alcohol Abuse?
There are different ways to say it; alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol dependence are just a few. The American Psychological Association considers alcohol abuse a drinking pattern that has resulted in recurring negative consequences. Doing poorly in school, at work, or trouble in the family are common as are legal complications. Alcoholism (also known as alcohol dependence) means that the person has no control over their alcohol use. They are not able to stop drinking once they start and when they do not drink, they get withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Uncontrolled sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
Who Is Most Susceptible to Alcohol Use Disorders?
The majority of alcoholics in the United States are men (17%) but women (8%) are following fast. It is not known why this is the case but it is suspected that it is because drinking is more socially acceptable for men than women. Although that is rapidly changing. Young people are much more susceptible as well. In fact, about 50% of underage adolescents in the United States have tried alcohol and those who start drinking before the age of 14 are twice as likely to become alcoholics. Those who were abused (mentally, physically, or sexually) as children are 70% more likely to become addicted to alcohol.
Alcoholism and Depression
By far, the most at risk for alcohol and drug abuse are people with depression or anxiety disorders. Many studies have found that people with mental health disorders use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate to alleviate the effects of their disorders. Frequently, people with depression will drink to get in a better mood but since alcohol is a depressant, they end up feeling worse. There are also many triggers that can set off a drinking episode for those with a mental disorder. Some of these include:
- Certain environments like parties or sporting events
- Feelings of sadness or nostalgia
- Extreme anger
- Certain people
- Feeling lonely
- Anxiety or stress
- Peer pressure (even in adults)
Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Over time, alcohol use can cause many types of diseases such as liver disease, high blood pressure, heart problems, digestive diseases, stroke, and even cancer. What is even more terrifying is that just one night of drinking can kill you or someone else. For example, drinking and driving can kill you or cause you to kill someone else. Drinking too much can also lead to accidents such as falling down stairs and drowning. In addition, alcohol poisoning can be lethal even if it is your first time drinking. There is only so much alcohol your body can take.
If you or someone you know may have a drinking problem, talk to someone. A friend or family member, doctor, or a therapist. There are even therapists close by that you can talk to online so you do not even have to make an appointment or leave your home. And many of these are available 24 hours a day.