April 19th, 2023
Alcohol abuse has existed throughout history. Alcohol abuse can be defined as using alcohol in higher quantities than desired over a long time. Alcohol abuse can lead to changes in behavior, impairment of functioning, decreased or inability to follow through with responsibilities, and serious physical and medical consequences. Commonly, it has been a way for individuals to self-soothe and cope with stressful situations.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, alcohol abuse appears to be on the rise, as many have consumed alcohol to deal with the changes brought about by the pandemic such as job losses, the shift to working from home, and the lack of social interaction.
Risk factors for alcohol addiction increase with higher levels of stress. Genetic predisposition can also increase one's likelihood of being more susceptible to abusing alcohol. Growing up in a household where alcohol was abused by a parent or sibling can cause generational trauma, leading individuals to also cope with using substances.
Those who have served in combat are also more likely to develop issues with alcohol abuse. Social pressure also increases the risk factor. In social situations, one may feel pressured to drink by friends or family and have difficulty saying no due to fear of being shamed.
Alcohol abuse does not only affect the person who is drinking but also the ones around them. If not properly addressed with a medical professional, it can lead to long-term health effects such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, and potential fatality. Alcohol abuse can lead to dependency. Many times, those who have such a high alcohol tolerance get behind the wheel after drinking because they do not think they are impaired.
Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of death in America and is very preventable. If you or someone that you know may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, it is important to get outside support from professional organizations that specialize in alcohol use. Substance abuse counselors can be a great resource for those who want assistance with harm reduction techniques or help in the recovery process.
Finally, support groups are available across the country day and night in person and via Zoom including Alcoholics Anonymous, Women in Sobriety, and Smart Recovery. Alcohol abuse is treatable if one is motivated and desires to seek and make a treatment plan. To prevent possible lethal or dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is critical to seek appropriate medical help.
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