Each year, excessive alcohol use takes the lives of 88,000 people and leads to 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States. Excessive drinking includes things like binge drinking, heavy drinking, and drinking by pregnant women or people who are actually younger than drinking age. Here are some of the health risks that you may face when you consume too much alcohol:
- Injuries resulting from driving while drinking
- Alcohol poisoning that requires help from an emergency team
- Risky sexual behaviors ending in STDs
- Miscarriage or stillbirth in pregnant women who consume alcohol
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or liver problems
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
- Learning and memory problems like dementia or poor school performance
- Mental health problems like depression and anxiety
- Social problems like lost productivity, family issues, and unemployment
- Alcohol dependence
The Suffering Within the Family
When you drink excessively, you are not only hurting yourself but also the people around you who care about you. Alcoholism becomes defined when your drinking results in physiological problems, psychological problems, and behavioral problems that disrupt your social or work life. Alcoholism, for this very reason, becomes a family disease. The truth is, alcoholics will usually have young children, be wives or husbands, have brothers and sisters, or parents who care deeply about them and are affected by their decisions. Alcoholism is responsible for many problems within a family and accounts for seventy six million American adults who have been exposed to these problems.
The issue is that, if a parent drinks, they could cause severe effects in their children. Children of alcoholics may experience low self-esteem, loneliness, guilt, feelings of helplessness, fears of abandonment, and chronic depression. They may believe that they are the cause of their parent’s issues and blame themselves. 75% of domestic cases also involve a family member who is an alcoholic, causing many physical and emotional problems for children. These children may carry these issues into their adult life and suffer the adverse effects for a long time to come.
For a spouse, there may be feelings of hatred, self-pity, exhaustion, or physical illness. The spouse may feel that they are playing the role of both parents and taking on all family responsibilities when one party is constantly affected by drinking. Having these extra responsibilities may lead to child neglect, inconsistency, and other problems. They may also face financial hardships because the drinking party cannot keep a job or are not dependable.
How Do You Know When Alcoholism is Affecting Your Life?
The problem is this: Many people do not believe that alcohol has taken control of their lives until it is too late. You must be able to recognize the signs that there is a drinking issue and that you are depending on the alcohol to run your life. Here are some of the signs that you must look into:
- Listening to others, as friends and family will voice concerns about your excessive drinking
- Whether or not you are drinking to self-medicate on an emotional level to “drink away your problems”
- Realizing that your health is declining
- Realizing that alcohol is affecting your work and causing you embarrassment in the workplace or making you lose out on job opportunities
- Noticing the signs that drinking is taking a toll on your relationships
Drinking in excessive amounts can ruin lives – not just your own life, but also the lives of the people around you who love you most. Luckily for you, alcohol does not have to control your life. If you or someone you know is suffering due to alcohol, there are many resources available to help you through your time of need. Breaking the abusive relationship with alcohol can help you get a fresh start on your life.