Myth that Alcohol Addiction Not as Serious as Drug Addiction

Alcohol is More Dangerous than Crack

Drug abuse is usually an illegally activity and this means that it is often portrayed in the media as far more serious problem than alcohol abuse. A report in the UK has found that in reality alcohol is more dangerous that heroin or crack. Drinking can completely destroy the life of the individual and cause great harm to their loved ones.

Alcohol is a Recreational Drug

Because of its general acceptance in society it is easy for people to forget that alcohol is a recreational drug. In fact it is the oldest and most widely used recreational drug on the planet. It is believed that up to 80% of the adult population in most western countries will at least have tried alcohol, and about 50% of the adult population would be considered regular users.

Reasons Why Alcohol is More Serious than Other Recreational Drugs

There are a number of reasons for why alcohol is more dangerous than recreational drugs including:

* It is legal to drink alcohol and it is readily available.
* It is relatively cheap to drink alcohol.
* Alcohol abuse is far more socially acceptable than drug abuse.
* There can be high cultural acceptance of alcohol abuse among some communities.
* There are times of the year when not only is heavy drinking acceptable behavior but it is also encouraged – e.g. the holiday season.
* Alcohol is highly toxic to the body and mind. Excessive alcohol intake can damage every organ in the body.
* Alcohol can lead to chronic and irreversible medical conditions such as alcoholic liver disease and alcoholic dementia.
* There are some professions where drinking during work hours is normal. High functioning alcoholics are tolerated so long as they continue to be successful.
* The public perception that alcohol is less dangerous than drug abuse can be used by addicts to justify their behavior.

Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

The dangers of alcohol abuse include:

* Alcohol is a depressant and it can exacerbate the symptoms of mental health conditions. It can also lead to the development of mental illness.
* Alcoholic liver disease.
* Financial problems.
* Legal problems.
* Alcohol is believed to be involved in 45% of violent crime.
* Chronic pancreatitis.
* Excessive alcohol intake often leads to alcoholism. One the individual has become physically dependent on alcohol it can completely destroy their life.
* Increased risk of injury due to accidents.
* Pregnant women who abuse alcohol can damage their unborn baby.
* It increases the risk of certain types of cancer.
* It can lead to high blood pressure.
* Up to 37% of domestic violence involves alcohol.
* Degradation to the nervous system – peripheral neuropathy
* Alcohol poisoning can sometimes lead to death.
* Excessive alcohol intake can lead to blackouts. When this occurs the individual will have no memories for a period of time while they were drunk.
* Hangovers mean that people are unable to function as normal the next day. Those people who have work will be less productive.
* Most people who commit suicide will have been drinking alcohol beforehand.
* Those who abuse alcohol are likely to die younger. One study in the US found that those who consume more than 5 drinks per day have a 30% higher mortality rate than those who consume 1 drink.
* Chronic abusers of alcohol will suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. Those who have been heavy drinkers for a long time may develop delirium tremens (DTs) and this can sometimes prove fatal.
* Heavy drinkers often suffer from nutritional deficiencies that can seriously damage their health.
* Moderate alcohol intake seems to reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome but heavy intake actually increases the risk of developing this syndrome.
* Alcoholic lung disease
* Sexual dysfunction
* Alcohol abusers will often neglect their family and social duties
* Binge drinking can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
* It increases the risk of developing gouty arthritis.

How to Avoid the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is the most widely used recreational drug of all and most people who drink avoid the dangers associated with it. Those people who stick to social drinking usually have no problems. In order to eliminate the dangers of alcohol it is advisable that:

* Men should only drink a maximum of 2 units of alcohol per day.
* Women should only drink a maximum of 1 unit of alcohol per day.
* Those people who are older than 65 years of age should only drink 1 unit of alcohol per day.
* Anyone who has ever had a problem with alcohol should avoid drinking altogether.

In the above recommendations 1 drink is classified as:

* Standard beer
* Standard glass of wine
* Standard shot of spirits

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The most serious consequences of alcohol abuse will tend to impact those who have developed a physical and psychological dependence. The signs of alcohol addiction include:

* Symptoms of withdrawal. These may appear anytime the individual tries to stop or significantly reduce their intake.
* The individual seems unable to reduce their intake of alcohol.
* They have developed tolerance for the substance and this means that they need to use more in order to get the same effect.
* Blackouts where they are unable to remember a period of time while they were intoxicated. It is common for alcoholics to deny having blackouts because they don’t remember they had them unless other people refer to things that occurred during the missing time.
* The individual sometimes feels guilty about their drinking habits.
* They feel the need to hide the extent of their alcohol consumption.
* They are uncomfortable about going places if there is not going to be alcohol available.
* The individual has lost interest in activities they once enjoyed.
* They may have already tried to reduce their alcohol intake but failed to do so.
* Feel unable to cope without alcohol.
* Alcohol consumption has put them in dangerous situations.
* The individual recognizes that alcohol is causing problems for them but they feel unable to stop.

How to Escape Alcohol Abuse

There are things that people can do in order to escape their alcohol abuse including:

* So long as the individual has not developed a physical or psychological dependence it is usually relatively easy for them to quit the substance abuse. Learning about the dangers of their current behavior may be enough to convince them to change.
* Those people who have become addicted will often need some type of help in order to change their behavior. Some people do manage to quit on their own, but they may not have the coping tools to deal with life away from substance abuse.
* These days many addicts choose to go to rehab. This is not only to give them a safe environment where they can go through withdrawals, but it also provides them with the opportunity to develop the skills they will need to build a successful life in recovery.
* Those people who have been drinking heavily for many years may be at risk of developing delirium tremens when they quit. For this reason it may be necessary for them to have their withdrawals medically supervised.
* There are different recovery fellowships that can offer people who want to quit alcohol advice and support.

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