Alcohol abuse leads to many problems in society. Individuals who are intoxicated will be more accident prone and more likely to break the law. This is because excessive drinking hinders the individual’s ability to make good decisions. Alcohol lowers inhibitions that would normally keep people out of danger and trouble. Drinking too much can not only harm the individual who is intoxicated, but also those around them.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises on the safe limits for drinking alcohol. Anything above these limits could be considered excessive. The recommendations are:
* Not more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day for adult men. A drink refers to the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of standard beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine.
* Not more than 1 drink per day for adult women.
* Not more than 1 drink per day for the elderly.
The National Institute also advises that pregnant women and anyone under the age of 21 should avoid alcohol completely.
People are influenced by their social network. This is where they go to for emotional support and comfort. It is also where they turn to for guidance and directions for how to deal with the world. The self-esteem of the individual can be highly tied up with how these people view them. Excessive drinking can be closely related to the type of social group a person belongs too. High risk behavior such as drink driving is more likely to occur when an individual belongs to a group that condones such behavior.
The influence of a social support network can be positive or negative. If a person’s social circle is full of others who drink excessively, it will compel them to do the same. If their associates are non-drinkers, it may encourage the individual to abstain too. Those who break away from addiction can be sucked back into that world if they don’t build up a strong social network of people who support recovery.
It is not necessary for the individual to become an alcoholic before they start to experience problems due to excessive alcohol usage. The dangers of this type of behavior include:
* Increased likelihood of accidents.
* Excessive drinking can lead to criminality. People will do things when they are inebriated that they would never consider sober.
* Unplanned pregnancies.
* Health problems.
* People who drink too much are more likely to be a victim of crime.
* A reduced ability to perform well at work or in college.
Not everyone who drinks excessively will become physically addicted to the substance. Some people will manage to never cross over the line to addiction. There are also those people who only drink excessively during certain periods of their life. Those who are not physically addicted will usually find that they can cut down, or stop altogether, once they have the right motivation to do so.
Many individuals who drink alcohol excessively will eventually become chemically addicted. Their body adapts to substance abuse so well that they experience withdrawal symptoms if there is not enough alcohol in their blood stream. Some individuals can develop particularly severe symptoms known as delirium tremens which can lead to death. The person who is physically addicted to alcohol will find it hard to break the habit. Many will require a strong intervention such as an in-patient treatment facility.
The individual who moves from excessive drinking to alcohol dependency will usually not be aware of the transition. Denial is strongly associated with addiction and the person will often fail to recognize the reduction in their quality of life.
There are different assessment tools available to determine if an individual has developed alcohol dependence. One of the most common of these assessments is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) which lists the symptoms of alcohol dependency as:
* Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol levels in the blood stream fall to low.
* An increased tolerance to alcohol.
* Alcohol becomes increasingly important in the individual’s life. A lot more of their time will be spent either intoxicated or getting over the effects of this.
* The individual loses interest in other activities.
* The person finds that they are less able to control the amount they drink or the time spent doing it.
* Negative consequences do not deter drinking.
* The individual will struggle to cut down on alcohol.
If three of the DSM-IV symptoms are present for more than one year, the individual can be diagnosed as alcohol dependent.
Those individuals who drink excessively, but are not chemically dependent, can usually learn to moderate or quit altogether. Learning about the dangers of alcohol abuse can be enough to convince the individual to make some positive life changes. This may involve spending less time with hard-drinking friends and finding new, healthier ways to spend their time.
A person who has become physically addicted to alcohol will find that there are many treatment options available. If the individual is at risk of developing serious withdrawal symptoms, they may need to have medical supervision while coming off alcohol. There are different rehab options available which offer a selection of paths into recovery. Once the individual has made it through rehab, they will still have to work hard in order to stay free of their addiction.