For many people not understanding the facts about alcoholism, alcoholic beverages are a welcome enhancement to social activities, and most individuals have a few drinks and leave it at that. But, other people find it difficult or impossible to stop at just a few drinks, and might finish the evening on the restroom floor near the commode or on a cot in the city jail. What is it about the human body and mind that causes such a vast difference in a person’s ability to control their alcohol consumption?
To gain a better understanding of how this occurs, some alcoholism facts presented by NIAAA (The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse) are as follows:
- Alcoholism is a result of a person’s uncontrollable need for alcohol.
- Vulnerability to alcohol’s effects can be genetic.
- Not everyone who has these genetic factors will become an alcoholic.
- Risk factors such as environmental or peer influences also contribute.
- Easy availability of alcohol is another contributing factor.
Tests have determined that alcoholism is not about the type of alcohol consumed, or the amount, or how long the person has been drinking. It is about the powerful, compulsive craving for the substance.
Alcohol dependency syndrome (alcoholism) is characterized by specific elements:
- Strong cravings that cannot be controlled by willpower alone.
- Inability to stop once the drinking has begun.
- Withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea, anxiety, sweating, when alcohol is withheld.
- Increased tolerance, needing more and more to get “high.”
With severe alcoholics, some of the withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening and will need professional medical intervention. These symptoms include hallucinations (DTs), confusion, disorientation, hyperactivity and cardiovascular problems.
Facts of Alcoholism and How it Affects Society
In America today, 14 million adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Additionally, 53% of Americans have one or more relatives who have drinking problems. Society suffers in a variety of ways as a result of alcohol-related consequences, but the average alcoholic thinks they are hurting no one but themselves. More statistics from NIAAA bring the effects of alcoholism on society into shocking reality:
- Alcohol-related accidents, violent crime, injuries and treatment costs over $52 billion per year.
- Productivity losses attributable to alcoholism are estimated at over $67 billion annually.
- Almost 60% of high school dropouts began to drink before age 16.
- Over 100,000 deaths annually are attributable to alcohol.
- Almost 2 million convicted offenders were drinking at the time of the offense.
- Over 21% of the people admitted to rehab are alcoholics.
- More than 26% of males and 8% of females aged 12 and up admit to binge drinking.
- Over 32% of traffic deaths in the US are alcohol-related.
- More than 61% of adults in the US have used alcohol at some time in their life.
The financial toll on taxpayers is enormous and is a valid concern, but the number of lives in jeopardy or not being lived to the fullest because of alcohol should be our main point of focus. We need these individuals to be contributing to society, and the families need their loved one to be normal again. The best way to do this is to make sure they get the best treatment possible and restore them to being functional in life once again.
Family members should learn the alcoholism facts, know the warning signs, and get help for their loved one before they become one of the above statistics. When trying to determine whether someone needs professional treatment for alcohol-related issues, there are a number of behaviors and other signs to take note of, such as:
Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism
- Secretive behavior, isolation
- Staying out later and later or going out more often
- New friends, changes in attitude
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Defensive behavior when confronted about the changes
- Sudden financial problems
- Missing school, work, and ignoring responsibilities
- Lying, stealing, pawning belongings
- Legal problems
- Violent outbursts
Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism
- Sudden weight changes
- Lack of interest in appearance, hygiene
- Shakes, tremors
- Hallucinations, DTs
- Cramps, muscle aches and pains
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Red, watery eyes
- Dry, wrinkled skin
- Poor memory
- Redness of the nose and checks
- Headaches, dizziness
- Loss of appetite
These behaviors are not always an indication of alcoholism, but when one or more of these are present along with alcohol consumption, a few red flags might be raised. Remain alert and if you feel it is time to step up and take action, there are professional interventionists available to help you.
Sorting Out the Alcoholism Myths Versus the Alcoholism Facts
Throughout history, alcoholic beverages of some type have been accepted at most social gatherings or celebrations, and during these years, hundreds of misconceptions about drinking have contributed to many people becoming severe alcoholics or actually dying as a result. Some of the most common myths and the true alcoholism facts are as follows:
MYTH: “I am not an alcoholic if I don’t drink alone.”
FACT: When or where you drink is not important, but how often and how much is the factor.
MYTH: “Alcoholics have a moral weakness and could stop if they really wanted to.”
FACT: Alcohol is classified as a drug because it causes the person to keep consuming even though they know about the dangers. Professional treatment is usually needed for true recovery.
MYTH: “Intelligent people don’t become alcoholics.”
FACT: Intelligence has nothing to do with it. You can’t think your way out of an illness that created physical, mental and emotional damage. Professional detox and rehabilitation are needed.
MYTH: “If I still have my job, home, and family, I must not be an alcoholic.”
FACT: This is known as functional alcoholism and it will eventually get worse.
There are many more myths about alcoholism, but the important thing to know is that when you are contemplating your drinking habits enough to begin making justifications, then you are possibly on the path to alcoholism.
There is not a city in the world that is immune to the effects of alcoholism, so the best we can do is provide effective professional treatment for as many of these individuals as possible. To learn about our program and alcoholism facts and treatments, call now.