Introduction to Managing Addictions: Alcoholism Part I:

Addictions to substances, legal and illegal, can be very damaging to your physical health, mental health, and social relationships.  Here we start with alcoholism, an addiction which has plagued numerous generations.

Understanding Alcoholism

We define alcoholism as an inability to refrain from consuming large quantities of alcohol (wine, beers, liquor, etc.) on a continuous basis, and which specifically damages the lives of ourselves and those we interact with. Alcoholism accounts for about 1 in 10 deaths among working age adults and may be the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.  We do not yet know all the causes of alcoholism, but this does run in some families. Others get involved with excessive alcohol consumption due to influence by family members, friends, peers, and other social contacts. Untreated mental health concerns, including anxiety and/or depression can also lead to alcoholism.

Medical and other conditions aggravated by alcoholism:

Numerous physical diseases are either caused directly by alcoholism, or indirectly in association with other factors. These include:

  • Liver damage and scarring (“cirrhosis”) leading to liver failure and possibly liver cancer.
  • Severe inflammation and destruction of the pancreas
  • Heart failure
  • Stomach ulcers and severe gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Certain gastrointestinal cancers
  • Brain damage
  • Accidents (i.e. falls, head trauma)
  • Anxiety, depression, and suicide (often prompted by dealing with the issues listed above). This can lead some into a vicious cycle: they drink because they are depressed by the consequences of drinking.
  • Accidental overdoses which may lead to death (especially if alcohol is taken with other drugs)
  • Possible birth defects if the patient is pregnant (“fetal alcohol syndrome”).

Social Problems caused by alcoholism:

  • Loss of employment and inability to hold a job
  • Inability to study and do well in school
  • Family strife and divorce. Inability to support one’s family.
  • Loss of good self esteem (affects your relationship with yourself)
  • Often leads to other addictions (illicit drugs, opioids, etc.)

Alcoholism is treatable if you seek help. There are many people and organizations willing to help you, including the Take CHARGE Team. However, you need to both recognize that you have an alcohol dependence problem and become determined to do whatever it takes to conquer this addiction. Getting to this mental treatment desire state is often the hardest part on your road to recovery. We can help with online addiction recovery consultation.

Alcoholism is an addiction which can seriously damage and shorten your life!