Alcoholism can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender, income level, or other factors. Unfortunately, because there are many misconceptions about alcoholism, many people who need help do not request it, and many who could encourage an alcoholic to seek treatment often do not. When you have the facts, it can help you seek treatment for yourself or for someone else in your life.
First, while it can be difficult to determine whether or not someone is an alcoholic, there are two factors that can be useful. One is the person’s ability to control his drinking. When an alcoholic has a drink, it is virtually impossible for him to stop. The way his system reacts to alcohol will cause him to want more.
Another factor is his behavior. While most people show changes in their behavior when they drink too much, changes can be extreme in people who are alcoholics. It may even seem as if his entire personality has changed.
Second, alcohol carries health risks. Although some physicians claim moderate drinking can be healthy, and no reason for concern, it is not wise to take chances. Even moderate drinking can significantly increase your risk of many forms of cancer. Excessive drinking can cause permanent damage to your brain, liver, and digestive system.
Women who drink take on additional health risks. If you drink during pregnancy, you are increasing your risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a low birth-weight baby. Drinking during pregnancy can cause permanent physical and mental damage to your child. If your baby is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, it is something he will have for the rest of his life.
Third, as many people who become alcoholics start drinking when they are young, it is important to note that the younger a person is when he starts drinking, the greater his risk of long-term problems. Adolescents and children who drink are at a much greater risk of developing mental health issues, engaging in other risky behaviors, moving on to other drug use, and of becoming alcoholics. One recent study shows teens who drink have a forty percent chance of becoming alcoholics.
Fourth, as drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, it can lead to all kinds of dangerous situations. One example is domestic violence. A large percentage of domestic violence cases involve the use of alcohol. Highway fatalities are another example. While operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug can result in the loss of lives, the drug that is most commonly found in these incidents is alcohol. Drinking also increases the risk of poor judgment in sexual situations, and accidents in the home.
Fifth, there is no definite way of determining who will become an alcoholic and who will not. There is no specific personality trait, family dynamics, or other factors that can determine which individuals are more at risk than others.
However, the accessibility and acceptance of alcohol use can place some people at a greater risk than others. Youngsters who receive the message that no one objects if they drink, people of any age who feel that drinking is the way to solve their problems, or those who believe anything important in life must be accompanied by drinking, are all receiving the wrong message about alcohol use.
The best way to look at drinking is that it is unnecessary. Although many people are capable of taking one drink on an occasional basis, there is no reason to take risks or to present alcohol in a positive light to youngsters.
You may be one of the many who will never develop a drinking problem. You can eliminate the risk entirely by not drinking at all. Not only is it better for your health, but you will be setting a good example for other people.
If you already drink, and find you cannot give it up, you can ask for professional help. If someone you know shows signs of alcoholism, you can express your concern by urging him to start a treatment program.
Alcoholism destroys health, families, and lives. You can do your part by not drinking, and by educating others. It is not difficult to socialize, relax, and have a good time without drinking.