What are the Major Effects of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?
Effects of Alcoholism
Alcohal addiction can affect all aspects of your life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, affecting virtually every organ in your body, including your brain. Problem drinking can also damage your emotional stability, finances, career, and your ability to build and sustain satisfying relationships. Insobriety can also have an impact on your family, friends and the people you work with.
A problem drinker might say:
“I’m not hurting anybody. I’m only hurting myself.”
However, we can quickly see that the statement is false, because there is no such thing as an addict who is only hurting him/herself.
The problem is found everywhere, from the rich and privileged, to the lost members of society.
For over 30 years the United States government has had its “War on drugs and alcohal,” but in that time frame we have seen in increase in crime, increase in health care costs and an alarming increase in the use of alcohol and dangerous drugs such as cocaine, heroin, crack and methamphetamine.
The “War on drugs and alcohol” has also brought on new research, a greater number of treatment facilities, new and sometimes controversial theories on treatment, advances in drug addiction and alchoholism medications, but are we winning?
The effects of alcoholism are far reaching and can be seen in the home, on the job, in churches and in schools.
What are the Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Your Health?
If left unchecked, the drug is going to win. Drug abuse and alcohal dependence is a disease of the brain, and the drugs and alchohol change brain chemistry, which results in a change in behavior. Aside from the obvious behavioral consequences of addiction and alcoholism, the negative effects on a person’s health are potentially devastating.
While addicts use drugs and alcohol to “feel better,” the unintended consequences include but are not limited to overdose, HIV/AIDS, stroke, cardiovascular disease and a host of related maladies.
Major Depression and Alcoholism
Depression is also an effect of addiction.
Addiction and depression – it may be difficult to tell which caused what. It’s almost a chicken or egg issue. Did the addiction cause the depression or vice-versa?
Depression is a clinical term, therefore we do not offer this discussion as the definitive description of Depression, as that is best left to a professional. Rather, we will talk about what appears to be signs and symptoms of Depression to give you an idea of what to look for in your self or your loved one.
Is it Depression, or does someone just have the “blues?”
One Thing Leads to Another
One thing can lead to another. In the case of addiction, the presence of a Depression could have come before the addiction, or come as a result of the addiction. Whatever the case, alchoholism and Depression are often found together.
When you look at the signs of drug abuse, you’ll find that users often lose interest in activities that they used to love, or they lose interest in family and friends. There are signs of alcohal addiction. However, these are also signs of Major Depression, and you can see that the two can be closely linked.
We include Depression mainly because alchohol recovery is a long distance run, not the 100 yard dash. Why do people use? I see dipsomania from a spiritual/psychological angle, but obviously there are important medical concerns.
I encourage you to seek professional help should any of the possible symptoms be true in your life or your loved ones life. You could be suffering from alcoholism and Depression.
Here is a checklist of questions to ask yourself about possible symptoms that may point to alcohal dependence:
- Have you or your loved one lost enjoyment in any activities that you have enjoyed previously, such as hobbies, people, sex, work?
- Have your sleep habits changed? Do you or your loved have trouble sleeping, or maybe you sleep too much?
- Do you feel empty or useless? Are you or your loved sad?
- Have your eating habits changed? Have you or your loved lost or gained weight without apparent reason?
- Are you angry, irritable or restless?
- Do you have difficulty focusing on tasks, or completing tasks?
- Is it getting difficult for you to make decisions?
- Are you out of energy, tired all the time?
- Are things in your life hopeless? Do you feel guilty?
- Have you thought of harming yourself or perhaps committing suicide?
If you or your loved can relate to five or more of these possible symptoms, please seek the help of a professional. There are many people who can be of assistance. Naturally many of us think of discussing this with our family doctor, but there are counselors, psychologists, psychotherapists, chaplains and pastors, and other health care professionals.
Depression is usually caused by several factors. One possible cause for Major Depression is the malfunctioning of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Alcohal can cause an alteration in brain chemistry, leading to Depression. It could be a combination of factors, but other possibilities include other chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
It could also be a hormonal imbalance of some kind. Just the way a person thinks can send them down the path of Depression. For example, if a person has a negative self-image or they are by nature pessimistic, or if they have feelings of helplessness, all of that can contribute to them becoming depressed.
Predisposition to Addiction/Alcoholism and Depression
There is also the possibility of a genetic predisposition to addiction and Major Depression. If your mother was depressed, or if others in your family were depressed, that increases your chances of experiencing Major Depression. Finally, if a person experiences a series of negative events in their life, that can also be a factor. If a person loses a loved one, or experiences a trauma, or loses his/her job, that can be a contributing cause of addiction and Major Depression.
Remember, we are all body, mind and spirit. In alcohal addiction and Major Depression, the body might crave the alcohol, the mind becomes altered and the spirit is crushed by the alchohol. Major Depression might have encouraged the drinking, or the Depression might have come about because of the alcohol use. Whatever the case, Major Depression is a serious condition and needs to be treated in combination with the alcohal abuse.
What are the Effects of Alcoholism and Addiction on the Family?
One of the saddest aspects of the insidious nature of alcoholism is that by the time an alcoholic realizes he/she has a problem, that problem has already taken a heavy toll on the family.
Parents in treatment centers tell counselors and therapists that they want to “get their kids back,” as alcoholism has taken over to the point where the courts have been forced to remove the children from the home.
Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and sadly children are all impacted by an alcoholic. Families can be sources of strength and support, or they can passively enable the alcohol addiction to advance.
Families can share in the victory over alchoholism, or they can be the victims of it.
How is our Society Affected by Alcoholism?
The news media reports daily struggles with theft, drive-by shootings, drug busts, illegal trafficking and manufacturing of drugs and alcohal, and arrests for crimes ranging from child neglect to murder. Look closer and chances are great that you will uncover an alcoholism component to any of these stories.
Effects of Alcohol abuse on the Economy?
Beyond the personal health issues, beyond the devastating effect on families, beyond community crime statistics, alcoholism has a major impact on the American economy. The National Institute on Drug abuse and alcoholism reported that some $70 billion per year is the impact that alcoholism has on this country.
This total includes the cost of law enforcement, incarceration, treatments, traffic injuries, lost time in the workplace, etc. Alcoholism causes impaired reasoning, and therefore the crime rate is dramatically impacted by it. Alcoholics have a much higher likelihood of committing crimes than others.
Put some of the factors together–
the alcohol-related deaths on our streets and highways, the abuse of the health care system by addicts showing up at Emergency Rooms looking for drugs and alcohol, the absenteeism on the job and the serious risk of HIV infection for those using needles,
and you can quickly realize this problem is enormous.