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Groups Who Alcoholism Affects
Though alcoholism enters lives in different ways, developing a dependency on alcohol can hurt anyone. Alcoholism impacts individuals of all ages, genders, orientations, professions, religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses. Tragically, alcoholism doesn’t just impact the alcoholic themselves, but also those who love and depend on them.
Teenage years are the riskiest time to develop an alcohol dependence. Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism later in life. On top of that, an individual’s brain is still developing well into their twenties. Excessive drinking can alter that development, affecting cognitive functions, causing learning problems, restructuring the way synapses are formed, and requiring alcohol to have some semblance of normal function.
Catching and treating alcohol addiction at this early age can be monumental in turning a youth’s life around. If you are a teen or the parent of a teen struggling with addiction, seek help today. It can mean a lifetime of change.
Binge drinking has now become part of the “college experience” that many students expect. In particular, binge drinking has been glamorized to the point where it is the primary focus of many parties and games students engage in.
Putting aside the sheer number of deaths and assaults that have resulted from college drinking and looking solely at the academic issues, 1 in 4 students admitted to having experienced academic issues because of drinking. Dropping classes, missing deadlines, and being put on academic probation can potentially jeopardize the student’s future and chance at their dream career.
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Finding a job and supporting your family is expected of most in our society, but the daily grind of a full-time job can push workers to look for a release. For many, this release is after-work drinking.
Problems arise when a professional is no longer able to limit their alcohol consumption, for example sneaking drinks during breaks or even at their desk. This can affect performance and cause unnecessary risk of injury in the workplace. This is especially true in jobs that require the operation of heavy machinery or other dangerous equipment.
Many alcoholics rationalize their addiction, thinking that it is only themselves they are affecting. However, when they allow their addiction to enter their place of work, they can be setting off a chain reaction that harms many others down the line.
The effects of aging are thought to be well-known, but the true mental changes seniors go through are often hard to spot from the outside. As people start to get older, many find it harder to cope with the many changes that they see every day. What used to be one regular drink can easily become two or three when they are feeling extra stressed.
An additional problem is that friends and family often dismiss the signs as, “well, that’s just how they are.” Meanwhile, senior citizens are facing an increasingly uncertain retirement, a decline in memory, and an increasing need for help. At the same time that these drastic status changes are pushing many seniors to increase their alcohol consumption, their bodies are changing as well, leaving them unable to process alcohol as well as they used to. This combination makes it easier for people of advanced age to unknowingly and rapidly develop a dependency.
If there is a senior citizen in your life who you’re afraid may be hurt or worse, please get in touch with a compassionate treatment provider today, before it’s too late.
After their service ends, it is often difficult for soldiers to return to civilian life. Up to 25% of former service members are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or some kind of anxiety disorder. Many turn to alcohol to self-medicate as a result. However, the relaxing effects that many seek from alcohol often do not occur when a co-occurring disorder is present. In fact, alcohol can make achieving deep sleep more difficult and cause more intense PTSD symptoms during waking hours. Veterans suffering from alcoholism on top of other mental health issues can become dangerous to themselves and others.
To truly treat one’s PTSD, he or she must first treat their addiction. True recovery can only happen when their crutches are given up and they can stand on their own. This can be especially difficult, as alcohol withdrawal can intensify PTSD, but anything is possible with the right help.
The LGBTQ Community
In the LGBTQ community, especially among teens, there are many situations that lend themselves to high amounts of stress. Discovering yourself, telling your loved ones, and fear of rejection can make alcohol seem like the easy answer. Additionally, due to discrimination, many traditional LGBTQ meeting places and social events are closely linked to alcohol, including bars and parties. As a result, dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are deeply embedded in many LGBTQ communities.
Due to the higher risk of discrimination and stigma compared to non-LGBTQ demographics, the abuse of alcohol is also more likely to lead to co-occurring disorders. This often makes the severity of the abuse worse. Dealing with these issues without someone who understands the depth of the situation can add unnecessary difficulty.
The medical profession creates constant emotional, stressful situations that are often clouded with death. Because of this, many medical professionals feel the need for release. A profession where lives fall on your shoulders can weigh heavily on the mind, but the abuse of alcohol is a deterrent to their ability and could directly lead to the harm of a patient.
The problem of medical professional alcoholism is very real. One study found that 15.4% of surgeons had an alcohol use disorder of some severity. Surgeons who had reported a major medical error in the three months leading up to the survey, being “burned out,” or depressed were more likely to have an alcohol dependence.
It can be extremely hard for a medical professional to come forward with an addiction. They risk their careers, social lives, and all that they’ve worked for. However, they are probably the most crucial to come forward. The harm, and potential death, of a patient can be the beginning of a dark spiral, especially if it happens while under the influence.
While there are many options out there for alcoholics to get sober, the vast majority are based around the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program. This program, developed in the 1930s, is male-centric. This is problematic because women interact with alcohol differently than men at a biological level. Women are more susceptible to dependency and other diseases from over-consumption. Smaller amounts of alcohol impact women more strongly, as they generally have more fat than men and produce less alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol before it can be absorbed into the blood).
The largest issue is the sociological difference between men and women. One of the steps AA devised in alcoholism recovery, is admitting you’re powerless against alcohol. This may work for men, but there is a clear difference in the social structure. Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink-And How They Can Regain Control, wrote about how it is important for women to gain control, rather than admit they have none.
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Raising a child inherently involves stress, trying to keep them safe and fed, while guiding them through life and worrying about their safety. It can open the doors to temptation, to find relaxation in a bottle. Unfortunately, alcohol use isn’t a solution; it just worsens the issue. Dependency on alcohol will just cause more stress in situations when it isn’t available, and you may find your child is slipping through the cracks.
If you are a child of an alcoholic, the first thing to understand is that it isn’t your fault. While it may seem like it, and your parent may outright say it, it isn’t. However, you can help guide your alcoholic parent to seek treatment that will greatly improve the quality of their life and yours.
High Functioning Alcoholics
The term, “high functioning alcoholics,” may seem like an oxymoron to most, but millions of Americans fall into this category. A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who suffers from an alcohol use disorder but who is able to mask it through personal, professional, and familial success. High functioning alcoholics often have vast networks of friends and family and high paying jobs. High functioning alcoholics differ from the stereotype of a rock-bottom alcoholic, but they still suffer from an addiction. They have a mental dependency on alcohol, binge drink when they are in a situation where it is deemed “acceptable,” and drink before and after events so that they’re not openly criticized.
They can be well educated, successful, and affluent, but their alcoholism still causes a strain on them and their relationships, hurting the ones closest to them. Success can’t justify damaging behavior. They may not realize it until something negative happens, like they are arrested or cause a major accident, but their addiction is just as damaging as any other.
No matter who you are, there are alcoholism treatment centers that will be able to help you get clean and stay clean. Contact a compassionate treatment provider now who can help you enroll in rehab.
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