Alcohol is widespread throughout our society. While many people enjoy having a drink or two on occasion, others develop problems with drinking. Although susceptibility to problem drinking is affected by genetics, the concept of alcoholism as a disease is complex, and other factors can have a significant impact on an individual’s drinking. Here are a few facts about problem drinking and a few steps people can take to fight it.
Identifying Problem Drinking
Addiction is a difficult concept to understand. Problem drinking seems to have a simple solution: Don’t drink as much or even at all. In reality, people with alcohol addiction believe they can stop at any time, but their history shows this not to be the case. Furthermore, people will severe alcoholism will continue drinking even when facing potentially severe health effects. Drinking that interferes with daily life is a sign of addiction, as is frequent binge drinking. It’s common for people with alcoholism to plan on only having one or two drinks and find themselves consuming far more.
Alcoholism and Relationships
In addition to the physical affects of excessive drinking, those struggling with alcoholism typically experience an array of mental affects. It can be difficult to maintain relationships while drinking regularly, and marriages can break apart. People who drink too frequently often go to great lengths to conceal their drinking, which can cause problems with honesty. Unfortunately, failing relationships can be a factor that leads to even more drinking, causing problems to accelerate.
Problems With Thinking
Regular alcohol consumption can lead to difficulty in thinking. Falling asleep while drunk severely diminishing a person’s quality of sleep, and sleeplessness can make it difficult to get through the day. Furthermore, the affects of a hangover make concentration difficult. People who drink regularly for an extended period of time will also experience withdrawal systems, which include restlessness, irritability and difficulty with concentration.
A Discrete Problem?
Alcoholism is often viewed as a discrete disease. However, other factors can play a role in drinking. Anxiety, for example, can lead people to drink as a means of finding relief, and depression is correlated with problem drinking. These problems can compound over time. Someone with anxiety about their finances, for example, might drink to relieve the pain. Money spent on drinking, as well as potential income lost due to difficulties at work, can lead to yet more anxiety and more drinking. Although resolving anxiety or other issues won’t necessarily resolve alcohol-related problems, it’s critical for developing a path forward.
Psychotherapy and Group Therapy
Psychotherapy can be a valuable tool for those looking to stop drinking. Time spent with a therapist gives patients the ability to assess their lives and the role drinking plays. Furthermore, therapists can provide tools for avoid urges to drink. Group therapy has shown to be a valuable tool as well; building relationships with those who have also struggled with alcohol abuse can provide the support needed to stay sober over the long term. Inpatient settings can serve as a great first step, especially when it comes to detoxing. Building a supportive team, however, is essential over the long term.
The Recovery Process
The early days for people aiming to stop drinking alcohol can be some of the most challenging, as withdrawal can have a range of effects, some of which can be medically dangerous. It’s important to seek medical help with detoxing. Withdrawal symptoms can be unsettling. Most symptoms resolve in a few days, but others can take weeks or longer to fully resolve. Fortunately, damage done from excessive drinking can typically be reversed over time, and it’s never too late to see significant health improvements from stopping drinking.
It’s common for people to fail in their initial efforts to stop drinking. Fortunately, help is available, and those who struggle with alcohol abuse have plenty of options to try. Although relapse is common, success happens as well, and those who successfully quit see vast improvements in nearly all aspects of their lives.