Who Does Alcoholism Really Affect?
Alcohol does not discriminate based on gender, sex, or age. It can impact anyone’s life with the potential of forever broken relationships, irreversible body damage, and loss of hope for the future. Regardless of your age, ethnicity, religion, profession, or daily activities, alcohol can severely impact every corner of your life. Even more, Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people, not just the one addicted. Families, friends, and entire communities feel the impact.
It’s no secret that alcoholism can start in college. Traditional college age is when you become able to drink alcohol legally and therefore gain easy access to it. Binge drinking can become a habit on the weekends, which may lead into weekdays as the pressure to conform to the “normal” college kid life tackles on. One party after another can lead to drink after drink, which may cause homework and other responsibilities to be ignored.
When a pregnant woman drinks, her baby drinks with her. Alcohol is passed through the bloodstream to the baby and can severely affect its growth and development depending on the amount consumed. If alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, it can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), resulting in birth defects and affecting the child’s cognitive development.
The professional world can get stressful. Constant deadlines and complaints from clients can lead one to relax with a drink… until that leads to another drink, and another, and another. Many professionals come home after a long day of work looking forward to a drink to sink the day away, leading into a spiraling routine of addiction. Although many professionals have responsibilities and don’t think rehab is a possible solution, there are rehab options that fit into even the busiest work schedules.
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Senior citizens may have gone all their life drinking alcohol, making their bodies and minds used to a certain level of consumption. However, many retirees find themselves bored and lonely when they no longer have a job to go to or a family at home, leading them to drink progressively more to cope. Tragically, many people, even adult children, often overlook alcohol abuse in senior citizens, which can cause some serious effects with age.
Many conditions can worsen over time with alcohol usage, some include:
- High Blood Pressure
It’s important to speak with a professional if you’ve noticed an elderly loved one has developed a drinking problem.
Many succumb to the peer pressure of drinking underage without realizing the consequences that come with it. The body of a person 20 years old and younger is still growing, and alcohol can have some serious effects on the body and mind such as…
- Memory Problems
- Life-long changes in brain development
- Delay of normal growth and sexual development
- Increased risk for suicide and homicide
Many veterans are especially vulnerable to alcohol abuse due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many get flashbacks of combat and uneasy feelings due to their experiences in the military. Alcohol can provide numbness to the pain and memories they hold on to. However, consuming drugs and alcohol can make the pain and memories more intense, leading to a reoccurring need to drink and prolonging recovery time.
Many women drink in response to feeling upset or other strong emotions. This type of drinking can become a habit with many drinks a day becoming a regular occurrence. With multiple drinks a day, a woman may be putting herself at risk for breast cancer, heart disease, or liver disease. Women are particularly vulnerable to alcoholism due to differences in body composition. A woman will often get more intoxicated than a man of the same weight for this reason.
Members of the LGBTQ community are often susceptible to drink based on the daily discrimination they face. Many hide the fact that they are a part of this community and dealing with the pressures of hiding their true identify from friends and family can take a big toll on their emotions, leading them to drink. More damagingly, many members of the LGBTQ community have been historically barred from traditional support systems including familial, religious, and governmental support as a result of their sexual orientation, leaving them less able to identify a need for and seek treatment.
One of the biggest reasons many become homeless is because of substance or alcohol abuse. Alcohol can break someone down until it is the only thing their mind is focused on, leaving them unable to hold a job or consequently a permanent place to live. The cycle of alcoholism then worsens. After losing their families and homes due to alcohol abuse brings many homeless into a state of depression, which then feeds their desire to drink.
Active Duty Military Personnel
Some studies show that one fifth of active military personnel are heavy drinkers. They are constantly put in extremely stressful and difficult situations during their duty, many of which are life threatening. Drinking provides an easy “escape” from the trauma they face within the military world. However, if left unchecked, this drinking can become a severe addiction that could put their lives, and the lives of everyone around them, in jeopardy.
Many medical professionals abuse alcohol in secrecy. This abuse is extremely dangerous to the alcoholic as well as their patients, as it could potentially lead to malpractice that could seriously injure, or even kill a patient. Many fear if they go to rehab they might lose their license, but consulting with or performing surgery on patients while intoxicated is even more likely to result in professional censure.
Many legal professionals are afraid to admit to a problem in fear of losing their job and reputation. This doesn’t make the problem go away. Legal professionals are constantly faced with tough decisions and tough cases, making stress play a big role in their everyday life. Alcohol is used to calm nerves and ease the stress their profession brings to them, but just as the stress never stops, the drinking never stops either.
Service Industry Professionals
Service industry professionals admit to higher rates of alcoholism than almost any other profession. This doesn’t mean their work is any less stressful than the next job. They are constantly put in stressful situations when having to deal with unhappy or even angry customers, making alcohol an attractive solution to ease the stress of dealing with unruly customers. Even worse, most restaurants and hotels, and all bars, constantly have large quantities of alcohol stocked, increasing temptation and making access easier.
Native Americans are often overlooked when it comes to alcohol dependency. Some of the highest alcoholism rates in America are found on reservations, which are often also plagued with poverty and lack of adequate social, medical, and political resources. Centuries of deliberate suppression of Native American culture and society, as well as active attempts to create alcohol dependence, have contributed to an environment where many turn to alcohol to escape. However, there is growing understanding of the unique cultural needs and preferences of Native Americans in the treatment industry, and many facilities offer programs specifically tailored to traditional spiritual beliefs.
African Americans consistently report lower rates of alcohol use and abuse than white Americans. At the same time, African Americans have long been underrepresented in alcoholism studies and treatment efforts. Additionally, many traditional avenues of support have either been denied outright to African Americans or at least seen as openly hostile to them. This has meant that African Americans have long sought out treatment at lower rates. However, in recent years there has been a growing awareness of African American sensitivities and significantly increased funding and focus on African American alcoholism treatment needs.
Alcohol consumption is closely woven into the cultures of many Latin American countries, especially with regards to many celebrations. In many Latin American communities, there is also a strong association between traditional notions of masculinity and alcohol consumption. Among first generation Latin American immigrants, there is also often a language barrier. These factors have contributed to make it less likely for many Latino Americans who need alcoholism treatment from seeking it. However, many treatment facilities, particularly those in areas with large Latino populations, employ Spanish-speaking staff and offer programs that are at least partially in Spanish.
High Functioning Alcoholics
High functioning alcoholics are individuals who suffer from alcoholism but still maintain a successful career and/or family life. In fact, some high functioning alcoholics lead major corporations. Because of their successes, many high functioning alcoholics are in complete denial that they have a problem, or admit they have a problem but don’t think they need treatment. Many are overconfident in their abilities to portray a normalcy while intoxicated. This overconfidence can lead to consuming more alcohol without regret, resulting in accidents and a severe dependence on the drug.
Finding Treatment for an Alcohol Addiction
Whether or not you fit into one of these groups or any others, help is out there for your addiction. There are many risks with excessive alcohol consumption – physical, mental, and financial. If your alcohol consumption is impacting your life or the lives of your loved ones, contact a treatment provider and find out what your treatment options are.
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