’s Effects On An Individual Essay, Research Paper
Alcoholism is a ?primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The
disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or
periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug
alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in
thinking, most notably denial (NCADD).” It?s effects on an individual are
an indescribable, harsh, reality of what one drug can do to an individual.
Some people wonder when drinking becomes a problem. For most
adults, moderate alcohol use, no more than two drinks a day for men and
one for women is relatively harmless. A “drink” consists of 1.5 ounces of
spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer (Etiology). Moderate use,
however, lies at one end of a continuum that moves through alcohol abuse
to alcohol dependence. Alcohol abuse is a drinking pattern that results in
consequences that are significant and recurrent. Alcoholics may fail to
fulfill major school, work, or family obligations. They may have
drinking-related legal problems, such as DUI?s and they may have
relationship problems related to their drinking.
People with alcoholism have become compulsive in their alcohol
use. Although they can control their drinking at times, they are often
unable to stop once they start. As their tolerance increases, they may need
more and more alcohol to achieve the same “high”. Or they may become
physically dependent on alcohol, suffering withdrawal symptoms such as
nausea, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremors and even
hallucinations and convulsions when they stop after a period of heavy
drinking. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol someone drinks or even
how much: alcohol dependent people simply lack control over their
Alcohol-related disorders are caused by many things. Problem
drinking has multiple causes, with genetic, physiological, psychological
and social factors all playing a role (Sher & Trull). For some alcoholics,
psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem and a need for
approval prompt inappropriate drinking. Others drink as a way of coping
with emotional pain. Still others use alcohol to “medicate themselves?.
Heavy drinking can cause physiological changes that make more drinking
the only way to avoid discomfort. Genetic factors cause some people to be
especially vulnerable to alcohol. However, a family history of alcoholism
doesn’t mean that children of alcoholics will automatically grow up to
become alcoholics themselves. Environmental factors such as peer
pressure and the easy availability of alcohol can also play roles. Although
alcohol-related disorders can strike anyone, poverty and physical or sexual
abuse also increase the odds.
Alcoholics, as a group, tend to demand a lot of themselves as
individiuals. They put an enormous amont of emphasis on trying to please
others and themselves. The frustration that can become of this is all but
pleasing. They may become pinfully depressed or overly agressive causing
family life to deteriorate rapidly (Family). If the person is married, the
significant other is forced to make a decision as to whether they are going
to stay with the alcoholic or not. Many families try to deny the fact that
the person is an alcoholic causing the situation to deteriorate even further.
One may wonder how alcoholisim affects the family. By allowing an
alcoholic?s behavior to be controlled by a substance, the abuser, family
members, friends and colleagues unknowingly become part of the
problem. Substance abusers cannot stop the habit of drinking without the
help of others. Abusing alcohol can have several effects on the family.
These things can be anything like a lack of trust in other people, difficulty
expressing feelings, working hard to keep things going at home and
school, insecurity, loneliness, anger, frustration, guilt, and fear (Family).
However, one should not accept blame for someone else?s behavior, have
an attitude that makes the alcohoic think that they are less than oneself,
use the ?if you loved me you would stop? appeal, make idle threats, argue
with the alcoholic when they are under the influence, and have unrealistic
expectations. What one really should do is learn the facts about
alcoholisim, develop an attitude to match the facts, talk to someone such
as a professional counselor about alcoholisim, make use of sources such
as Al-Anon, maintain a healthy lifestyle for oneself, and take a stand about
an alcohol free environment.
The symptoms of alcoholisim can start out minor and hard to detect
at first, however they will rapidly show themselves over the course of time.
Many of the symptoms may include loss of continuous impared control
over drinking, progression with the drug, use of alcohol despite
consequences, distortions in thinking, personality change, and most
notably denial (ESBRA).
Many alcoholics say that they have a good reason for their drinking.
These reasons vary considerably from loneliness to attraction, and
escaping from pain to control issues. These patterns are common to
addiction. No individual would like to admit that they are any different
than anyone else. Therefore, it is understandable that they would want to
make excuses for their drinking. They would like to one day, control their
drinking, for that is the wish of every alcoholic (Big Book). However, many
alcoholics die in the process of doing this.
Alcohol-related disorders can affect people in many many ways.
Small amounts of alcohol may have some beneficial physical effects, but
heavy drinking can cause serious health problems and even death.
Short-term effects include distorted perceptions, memory loss, hangovers
and black-outs. However, most problems aren’t apparent until they
become serious. Long term, heavy drinking can cause impotence, stomach
ailments, cardiovascular problems, cancer, CNS (central nervous system)
damage, serious memory loss and liver cirrhosis (NCADD). Cirrhosis is one
of the most common disorders associated with alcoholism. It is the most
severe form of liver disease. The liver is especially vulnerable to the toxic
effects of alcohol because it is the primary component for filtering out
substances in the blood. Alcohol also increases the chances of dying from
automobile accidents, homicide and suicide. Heavy drinking also has a
impact on one?s mental health. Alcoholism can worsen existing conditions,
such as depression, or induce new problems, such as serious memory
loss, depression, or anxiety.
Alcoholics don?t just hurt themselves. According to National Council
on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), more than half of Americans
have at least one close relative with a drinking problem (NCADD). The
results can be devastating. Spouses are more likely to face domestic
violence. Children are more likely to develop psychological problems,
suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Women who drink during
pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses.
A person that lives in a house with an alcoholic has an
approximately twenty-five percent of marriying another alcoholic (Family).
The reasons for this are still being researched. However, some
researchers believe that it occurs becuase the person is used to being with
an alcoholic. The individual might be used to living with someone that is
not ?normal? in society?s eyes, but in their eyes is something that is
?normal? to them (Sher, Walitzer, Wood). It has also been found that the
children of alcoholics do drink most of the time. Some do not drink to the
extent of the parent because they do not want to turn out like their parent.
However, in studies and surveys, it has been found that the children of
alcoholics do drink socially.
Someone should seek help when signs of a possible problem occur.
These include having friends or relatives express concern, being annoyed
when people criticize your drinking, feeling guilty about your drinking and
thinking that you should cut down but finding yourself unable to do so
(NCADD). Needing a morning drink to steady your nerves or relieve a
hangover is another warning sign. Alcoholics usually can’t stop drinking
through willpower alone. Most need outside help. They may need
medically supervised detoxification to avoid potentially life-threatening
withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, for instance. Depending on the
problem’s severity, treatment can take place during office visits, hospital
stays or residential treatment programs. Once people are stabilized, they
need help resolving psychological issues that may be associated with
A psychologist can help an alcoholic. They play a huge role in the
successful treatment of alcohol-related disorders. One should be sure to
choose a psychologist who is experienced in working with alcohol-related
disorders. To improve the chances of recovery, one should seek help early.
Using individual or group psychotherapy, psychologists can help people
address psychological issues involved in their drinking. They can help
people boost their motivation, identify situations that trigger drinking and
learn new coping methods. They can also provide information to programs
such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The treatment process doesn’t end once
drinking does, however. To help prevent relapses, psychologists usually
keep working with people as they begin new lives. Many people seek
additional support through continued involvement in A.A. Because
families influence both drinking and recovery, marital and family therapy
are also key. Psychologists can help families repair relationships and work
through the complex transitions that occur as recovery begins. They can
help families understand alcoholism and learn how to support family
members in recovery. They can also refer family members to self-help
groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen.
Many people also wonder if treatment really works. Evidence
strongly suggests that many people, especially those with jobs, families
and other forms of social stability, recover after their first attempt
(History). Not everyone is so fortunate. Some cycle between relapse and
recovery several times before achieving long-term sobriety. What’s
important is for the person to stop drinking again and get additional
support (Relapse). While alcoholism is treatable, so far no cure has been
found. That means people remain susceptible to relapses even after
they’ve been sober for a long time. Reducing alcohol consumption doesn’t
work. Most experts agree that the goal should be complete avoidance of
alcohol. Alcohol-related disorders can severely impair people’s functioning
and health. But the prospects for long-term recovery are good for people
who seek help from appropriate sources. Qualified psychologists with
experience in this area can help those who suffer from alcohol-related
disorders stop drinking and start regaining control of their lives.