The "War On Drugs" continues. . .
and rightly so! Drug abuse has been an epidemic in our country for far too many years. Abuse of mood altering substances has cost billions of dollars to the American taxpayer; and drug abuse has caused immeasurable pain and suffering to those who abuse drugs; to their loved ones; and to society.
But, we must not forget, alcohol is also a drug. Although legal, alcohol remains one of the most destructive substances in our culture. The facts speak for themselves.
*There are up to 14 million identified alcoholics in this country.
*Over 50 percent of our nation's highway fatalities involve the use of alcohol.
*Up to 40 percent of our teenagers have identifiable problems related to the use of alcohol.
*Over 60 percent of violent crime in this country is linked to excessive drinking.
In short, alcoholism itself remains a national epidemic!
It Can Happen To Anyone. It's estimated that 3 out of 4 alcoholics are well accepted men and women living in their communities. Young people may be even more susceptible to alcohol dependency than adults. Studies have shown that the earlier an individual begins to use alcohol, the more likely serious damage will occur, and in a shorter period of time.
The Progression of Alcohol Abuse & Dependency
Patterns vary, but generally follow these stages:
Early Stages - The person drinks to change feelings or to escape from problems…make promises to quit but breaks them…drinks more to achieve the same effect…has trouble stopping after the first drink.
Middle Stages – The person denies drinking, drinks in secret, and hides the alcohol…looks forward to opportunities to drink again…drinks on almost all social occasions and frequently becomes intoxicated…denies problems related to alcohol even though they are obvious to others.
Later Stages - There person now lives to drink…liquor comes before everything else…ambition and sense of responsibility diminish…absence from work occurs…defensiveness and denial increase as relationships deteriorate and self-respect fades.
And Finally - The person-hits "rock bottom". Drinking continues despite painful and injurious results such as divorce, alienation from family and friends, job loss, social and personal ruin, physical disability.
Why Do People Abuse Alcohol?
To relieve tensions - People use alcohol as an escape from problems, pressures and tensions of everyday life.
To compensate - When shyness or low self-confidence is a problem, alcohol may be used to overcome fears.
As A substitute - Alcohol is used to cover up feelings of insecurity and guilt, and as a substitute for personal relationships, challenging work, or self-fulfillment.
But...Alcohol is only a temporary solution and it almost always makes a situation worse.
What Are The Answers?
Education - Knowing about alcohol and it's effects will encourage people to make wise decisions about their drinking.
Alternatives - At parties and social gatherings, serve food and non-alcoholic beverages. Plan recreational activities that show people they can have a good time without drinking.
Facing The Truth - To overcome the negative impact, the person who abuses alcohol must become determined to bring quality and meaningfulness to his or her life through means other than alcohol.
When Counseling Is Needed
Through counseling, individuals and families can learn about alcohol abuse and it's effect on them and their loved ones. The counselor can provide guidance on what can be done and how problems can be resolved.
A counselor can also get people in touch with needed treatment services: or with self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Alanon. These groups share common problems and meet to give each other help and support.
Treating Alcohol Abuse & Dependency
It's always better to seek treatment for alcohol abuse or dependency before problems become critical. Alcoholism is progressive, and when left untreated it almost always becomes a threat to life, health, and happiness.
Each person who abuses or depends on alcohol is different. Individual recovery programs depend on length of abuse or dependency, attitudes of the individual, family and friends, and the person's willingness to do something about it once the program of recovery has been introduced.
The goal of treatment is to learn to live productively and comfortably without drinking.