Alcoholism: A Curse, Not Addiction

By Kevin Repass

Posted 2 months agoHEALTH

Alcoholism-A-Curse,-Not-Addiction

“I can have just one.” Those are common words that I always told myself when it came to drinking. I thought I was capable of moderation and self-control. I learned the hard way that that was never the case. I was too careless and perhaps somewhat oblivious to the fact that one drink would ALWAYS lead to another and another and another.

After one drink, it was all downhill from there. Nobody could talk me out of having another. Nobody could get in between me and my love for alcohol. It was in fact, a problem. I just wish I was capable of seeing it earlier on in life instead of later. Alcoholism is more of a curse than it is an addiction.

Alcoholism: Nature or Nurture?

I feel like alcoholism can definitely run in the family but environmental factors increase the chances of unleashing the alcoholic in us. I don’t think anyone wakes up and decides they want to be an alcoholic.

There is an ongoing debate among the scientific community as to whether it is hereditary or genetic, nature or nurture.

My grandfather was an alcoholic who also struggled with depression. I sometimes wonder if maybe it skipped a generation and I was the unfortunate one to inherit this curse. Anyone who isn’t an alcoholic doesn’t seem to be capable of putting themselves in our shoes or understand whats going on in our heads.

We’re incapable of seeing things the way a normal person might see it. Alcohol has been proven to affect brain chemistry too but as an alcoholic, we’re too set in our ways and trapped in our own selfish need for alcohol to care. We don’t care if alcohol changes our behaviors, for better or worse, until it’s too late.

Everyone has different reasons for turning to alcohol as a solution. Personally, I usually drank as a need to self-medicate because of the stress of certain jobs and living situations that I didn’t see as ideal. People don’t understand that we don’t always drink because we’re completely unhappy, we drink because certain things just have a way of building up and getting to us and we don’t know how else to cope.

I remember one year I was invited to an employee Christmas party with an open bar. Against my better judgment, I decided to crush a six pack and take a cab to the party. Once I got there, I started pounding the strongest drink I could think of- long island ice teas. I was unhappy with this job at the time and felt like I was unappreciated.

Sure enough, I ended up falling down and busting my head on the floor on the way to the bathroom. I was cut off. I remember being belligerent and saying how I felt like I was unappreciated. I thought getting drunk was the best solution to show my frustration.

The rest of the night was a blur. I just remember my girlfriend at the time coming to pick me up from the bar. I believe I fell asleep in her car in the garage, woke up and somehow found my way outside in the backyard. I drank because I was clearly depressed and unhappy not only with my job but with our living situation as well.

Unfortunately my girlfriend at the time was the one that had to unfairly deal with the repercussions of my actions. As an alcoholic, that incident still didn’t deter me from drinking. I would like to reiterate that alcoholism is a curse more than an addiction. I compare it to like being a werewolf- a werewolf can’t help itself when the moon is full.

Alcoholics can’t help themselves when it comes to alcohol, let alone our behavior once intoxicated. There were times where I would start to believe that maybe I did have a problem with alcohol but somehow it still wouldn’t deter me.

I wish I wasn’t too blind and ignorant to see just how much alcohol had control over me, my actions and my behaviors. Alcohol turned me into a person that I was not.

Everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing me sober and the displeasure of knowing me drunk knows this. I feel like the same could be said for a lot of people who struggle with alcoholism. Even when we want to try and moderate or control it, we just somehow cannot.

It isn’t that we don’t want to, it really is that, for whatever reason, we just can’t. Once we finally do control it or quit drinking altogether, it’s too little too late. All the damage our drinking has caused has already been done. Not in all cases but I would say most.

The Alcoholic Spectrum

I believe there are different parts of the spectrum when it comes to drinking and I experienced all of them. The first is drinking because it makes life more entertaining and fun- the “life of the party” drinker. I would drink with friends because it made me feel more comfortable in my skin and I felt like it made me an a lot more enjoyable person to be around. The second is the “in-between” drinker.

The person who drinks because some aspects in life are going well but other areas drag us down and lead us to drink. For example, a person is happy with a relationship but stressed out because of work or vice versa. The third is the depressed, self-medicating drinker- the one who drinks because they’re going through a rough time and are in a dark place in life.

We generally isolate ourselves and push everyone else away. We don’t know what else to do but drown our own misery and sorrows out with alcohol. I reached a rock bottom in my life where I legitimately wanted to drink myself to death. My family decided to send me to a detox and rehab center for treatment because if I didn’t get help, it would have put an end to me.

The Only Solution

The worst part about being an alcoholic is that we always find reasons and excuses to drink even when we shouldn’t or don’t need to. We try to rationalize our alcoholism without even realizing it.

There’s a game on tv? Time to drink. It’s a holiday? Time to drink. It’s the weekend? Time to drink. Going to the movies? Time to drink. I just got off work, time to drink. The weather is nasty outside so might as well just stay in and drink.

The most difficult part about being an alcoholic is trying to stop the drinking. It’s easy to start but a lot more difficult to stop. I found there really is only one solution to stop drinking. I tried the whole “drink in moderation” or “establish a limit” thing. For the alcoholic, it simply does not work.

The problem is we THINK we can control our drinking and limit ourselves to a specific number of drinks but the sad reality is we can’t. We can’t just drink one or two beers or take one or two shots and be content. As alcoholics, we’re selfish. We drink only to get drunk and that’s the bottom line.

The only foolproof way for the alcoholic to stop drinking is to just not drink at all. I know it takes a lot of willpower to stop but it really is the only one true way. We have no self-control and one drink will always lead to plenty more- that is the curse of alcoholism.

Life After Death of the Alcoholic

Breaking free from alcoholism was one of the most difficult uphill battles i’ve ever had to fight throughout my life. I did not see it at first but alcohol did have full control over me when I thought I had the control over it. I had to learn my lessons the hard way that alcohol does me more harm than good. There was a point in my life I could drink and be happy. There was also points in time where I would drink but it would only end up making those around me miserable.

There was also a time where I drank alone because I was miserable and alcohol was my best friend, my only comfort and only solution. It hurt me knowing and realizing that if I had just been able to stop sooner, my life would have turned out differently.

I think that is the real reason alcoholism is a curse- we are not capable of changing our alcoholic behaviour until it’s too late. We have to learn our lessons the hard way and continue to suffer from the actions and consequences our drinking created.

Life after breaking the curse of alcoholism is better but it will never completely heal the scars that alcoholics give to or receive from others. It is like a werewolf changing back into a human, only to realize the path of destruction it left behind and can’t do anything to undo the damage.

The Drawback of Alcoholism in the Modern World

The impact of alcoholism on modern society is severe. This condition negatively influences every social and financial sector in one community. And we have been struggling with alcohol-induced problems for centuries. In a world where alcohol is widely accepted and marketed, it can be hard to see the consequences caused by overconsumption.

In this article, we’re going to explore the drawback of alcohol addiction in our everyday lives.

The Rise of Alcoholism

Alcohol consumption in the US is on the rise for the past two decades. In fact, Americans today are drinking more than before the Prohibition, and that’s an alarming indicator for the future. Since 1999 alcohol-related deaths doubled, which means the death rate jumped for more than 50 percent. The numbers show us that alcoholism, with its fatal consequences, is escalating, and the trend is not showing any signs of slowing down or stopping.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in Toronto, and the Technische Universität in Dresden, conducted a joint study on the global alcohol consumption rate. From 1990 to 2017, worldwide alcohol intake increased by 70 percent. Europe was the only exception in the world, with a 12 percent decrease. 

Moreover, toxic but popular habits like binge drinking (pregaming) or “mommy juice” are normalizing high alcohol consumption and turning it into a culture.

Alcoholism & Partner Violence

According to WHO: “ partner violence refers to any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in that relationship.” And alcoholism plays a massive role in the extent and impact of the violence between partners. Furthermore, alcoholism increases the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator.

Even though men towards women commit the highest percentage of violent acts, rates of women perpetrators and same-sex couple violence are on the rise. Alcohol consumption is often a direct cause or one of the leading reasons for partner violence.

Because alcohol disturbs the cognitive and physical function and lowers self-control, individuals are not able to reach a non-violent resolution. Furthermore, because alcoholism can be financially draining, it causes additional tension and difficulties between partners.

On the other hand, partner violence can be the reason for alcohol addiction, if the victim is using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Alcoholism & Road Trauma

Drunk driving is responsible for more than 31 percent of all car accidents in the US. Alcohol consumption affects the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, and it alters the driver’s subjective assessment of risk. Hence, the combination of these factors is reckless driving behavior, which can result in road trauma or even death.

Depending on the amount of alcohol in the body, the driver’s ability can be impaired for hours after he or she stopped drinking. In fact, the driver’s distance and depth perception are affected, including his visual performance. The ability to process information from multiple sources is reduced.

According to a study about simulated driving performance following alcohol consumption, published by the Journal of Sleep Research, even with small amounts of alcohol in the driver, the possibility for traffic accidents doubles. Almost all countries in the world penalize drunk driving in one form or another. However, that has not affected the rising trend of alcohol-related road trauma.

Alcoholism & Mental Health

The link between alcoholism and mental health is undeniable. In most cases, specific mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are caused by alcoholism. And in other cases, mental health issues are the primary motive for developing alcohol addiction. Because people drink to improve their mood, it’s very easy to abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The human brain functions in a healthy way when there is a chemical balance, and alcohol is a depressant. Hence, it disturbs the balance because it affects the neurotransmitters in the body. And by suppressing the part of the brain responsible for inhibition, it lowers anxiety, but only momentarily.

In fact, with constant alcohol consumption, the brain can’t restore the chemical balance, and the person becomes addicted. Thus, alcohol becomes a mood regulator with severe mental and physical consequences that prevent the brain from producing serotonin.

Alcoholism & Physical Health

The devastating consequences of alcoholism on physical health range from mild to deadly. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, these are some of the conditions directly caused by alcoholism:

  • Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver
  • Alcoholic fibrosis and sclerosis of the liver
  • Alcoholic hepatic failure
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcoholic gastritis
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis
  • Alcoholic fatty liver

However, that’s not the whole picture, and excessive alcohol consumption is listed as a risk factor for over 200 illnesses. Some of the more severe conditions include:

  • Mouth cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Unipolar depressive disorder
  • Hypertensive heart disease

Alcohol addiction is often contributing to the aggravation of a variety of health disorders. And mild conditions can cause severe damage if they’re combined with alcoholism. The effects are both mental and physical, and the brain is the first organ in the body that suffers from the imbalance.

The Effect of Alcoholism on the Family

As with any addiction, the damage of alcoholism on the family can be devastating. Both for the partners, their children, and any additional member of the family. By putting a strain on emotional and financial stability, the possibility for violent outcomes and arguments increases. In fact, of all married couples that had issues with domestic violence, 60 to 70 percent included alcohol abuse.

Constant alcohol consumption affects the brain’s balance, which means the person’s cognitive abilities are impaired. That leaves him or her incapable of performing tasks and family obligations. Alcoholism can also result in legal issues and low work performance (unable to keep a job, stuck in low-paying jobs, or unemployed).

The effects on the family are evident when one of the family members makes drinking a priority instead of the family itself. Alcoholism leads to negligence, irresponsibility, social, health, and financial issues.

The Effect of Alcoholism on Children

Alcoholism is also a contributing factor in the escalation of child abuse. Over 700,000 children per year are victims of child abuse in the US, and in 90 percent, it’s someone related to the child. In most cases, the violence is triggered by intoxication.

Children living with alcoholic parents are in danger of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by them or other people. Parental drinking is a risk factor mainly because the parents leave their children exposed to misuse by others. That’s due to the fact alcoholism interferes with the parent’s ability to provide a safe home environment.

One of the main issues with alcoholism in the family is the neglect and lack of care for children and their wellbeing. When children are left to their own devices, the threat of illegal or criminal behavior is also higher.

Growing up with alcoholism affects the child’s social and emotional growth, and it increases the risk factors for abuse.

The Financial Burden of Alcoholism

The financial burden of alcoholism can be quite expensive, depending on income, consumption volume, and liquor type. And even though the costs are different for everyone, the toll constant drinking takes on the account is similar.

The average American spends $565 per year on alcohol purchases or one percent of the annual gross income. However, calculating the cost for someone with alcohol addiction comes closer to a couple of thousands of dollars per year. That’s because alcohol becomes a necessity used as a mood regulator that helps with withdrawals.

Moreover, the cost related to alcoholism doesn’t end with the purchase price of the liquor. There are also possibilities for additional expenses like:

  • Increased health care costs
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Legal fees

And it’s harder to keep a steady or a high-paying job, which leads to an even more difficult financial situation. 

The Healthcare Cost of Alcoholism

The burden of alcoholism falls the hardest on the healthcare system. And in the US, the healthcare costs for alcohol-related problems every year is about $22.5 billion. However, the total cost for alcohol-induced conditions comes around $175.9 billion per year, which is more than the cost of smoking or drug-related problems.

Moreover, 25 to 40 percent of general hospital beds are taken by people that have a condition related to alcohol consumption. And the cost for untreated cases connected to alcoholism is approximately $184.6 billion each year. Those costs are distributed across health care, business, and criminal justice. The result is over 88,000 alcohol-related deaths.

The statistics are grim, but they are a wake-up call for the modern world and the issue we’re facing with addiction. Alcoholism doesn’t affect only the individual, but the entire society from the healthcare system to the labor market.

Excessive drinking is draining the economy, and it’s putting a strain on public safety.

The Public Burden of Alcoholism

The WHO passed a number of resolutions that address the issue of alcoholism, explaining the safety measures that each country needs to take to battle the addiction. And the public burden of alcoholism is felt on a local, national and global level. The same way the consequences are felt in the family and the community.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry showed that one in eight adults in the US has an alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, after the first decade of the 21st century, we can see a 47 percent increase in alcohol consumption across the country. Taking these numbers into consideration shows that the public burden is only going to increase.

However, it’s up to the country to take measures. And it is up to the individuals affected by this addiction to seek help.

Conclusion

Battling with alcoholism is hard for everyone involved, including society. Hence, if you’re thinking about quitting alcohol, we would recommend you to try this drug rehab in Arizona. This is a journey that genuinely begins by taking the first step and admitting the problem. And in a safe rehabilitation facility, you can get all the support and help you might need for the next steps towards recovery.

Rehab facilities, 12-step programs, and trained professionals can help guide you. Also, staying connected with family and community in difficult times is advised.

About the author Kevin Repass

Kevin Repass is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He is a writer for Yourfirststep.org/ a south Florida-based company dedicated to providing resources and information to all those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.