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
- Ischemic stroke
- 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.
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.