Who Are the Victims of Alcoholism?
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism remain some of the most severe diseases in the world. Currently, millions of Americans are impacted by alcohol abuse every year. Anyone can experience alcohol dependence, from famous singers and writers to everyday people. People who have been diagnosed with a severe alcohol use disorder can include members of every ethnicity, socio-economic class, profession, gender, orientation, or age. Alcoholism can have harmful consequences not only for the person with the disease, but also for their loved ones or anyone who they encounter while impaired by alcohol. Theses harmful consequences of alcohol abuse can include emotional, psychological, behavioral, medical, legal, financial, personal, physical, spiritual, relation, and professional damage that can be traumatic for everyone involved.
How Alcohol Impacts People
Not only does excessive alcohol use cause health problems, it causes behavioral problems that may concern those witnessing its effects. With regular alcohol consumption, the brain may shrink in size. This can in turn create behavioral changes, contributing to stress. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult to withstand. To illustrate, when someone limits their alcohol consumption after developing a tolerance or dependence, the brain craves the chemicals in alcohol. He or she may exhibit seizures, depression or anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. During withdrawal, a person can experience seizures, tremors, sweating, aggression, hallucinations, and even death. Withdrawal symptoms can negatively impact a person’s daily life and peace of mind. To relive the symptoms of withdrawal, many return to drinking alcohol.
Alcohol can be a substance to cope with mental and emotional distress. A person who abuses alcohol or become dependent on it may develop depression and become unrecognizable to their loved ones. In these cases, not only do loved ones witness depressive episodes, but the effects are more intense when combined with the depressive effects of alcohol.
How Alcoholism Affects Family Members
Alcoholism is a family disease because family members are often most directly impacted by alcohol and drug use. For starters, family members witness challenging behaviors and often try to intervene. Sometimes well-intending family members attempt to help loved ones with alcohol addiction actually enable them or become co-dependent with them instead.
Relatives who abuse harmful substances may become defensive or deny they have a problem with those substances. The individual drinking alcohol may become reclusive, spend large amounts of money on alcohol, act secretively, steal money for alcohol, and risk job loss, relationships, safety, or academic performance. The result can be trust issues, broken relationships, and emotional frustration that they may find therapy necessary to fix, process, and resolve.
Children and the Effects of Alcoholism
Often children who see a mother or father drinking often duplicate their drinking patterns as they age. If the parents had an unstable relationship, the child may develop a caretaker or codependent attitude, attracting other individuals struggling with compulsions of addictions. Children can develop fear-based thoughts about people and relationships from seeing family members who are unable to effectively communicate and manage conflict. Additionally, children can develop anxiety, depression or drink alcohol themselves at a younger age, and hence experience greater health risks. Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) is one support group which has successfully helped many people who were children of parents who abused alcohol.
College Students and Alcoholism
A survey conducted by the Washington Post noted that about 80% of college students drink alcohol. College drinking has many causes. For example, students entering a new world facing academic stress and isolation from family may feel anxious or depressed. Alcohol or other substances can become a temporary source of relief. However, they may also increase health and safety risks and result in declining academic performance.
Both men and women who drink on campus are at greater risk of sexual assault and violence. 11.2% of students are victims of rape; 8.8% women and 2.2% men. Depending on the time of year, college students are more likely to be at risk for sexual assault. This is typically around fall months when new students are starting school for the first time. Additional dangers include date rape drugs placed in alcoholic beverages leaving women and men vulnerable to sexual assault.
Expecting Mothers and Alcohol Effects
Expecting mothers endanger two lives when they drink alcohol. Alcohol gets transferred through the bloodstream and into the baby. Even small amounts of alcohol exposure can impact the baby’s development, causing developmental delays and abnormal physical attributes. In many cases, babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which produces the following traits:
- Deformed joints, limbs
- Problems with vision
- Extremely thin lips, upturned nose
- Small heads
- Cardiac problems
- Bone problems
- Learning disabilities
- Poor memory
- Difficulty problem solving
- Poor social skills
- Academic problems
Women should consult a doctor if expecting regarding alcohol consumption.
Get the Help You Deserve
Alcoholism is a serious condition that needs immediate assistance. The first step is to acknowledge that the problem exists. With this knowledge, someone can empower themselves to discover how treatment can restore balance in his or her life, rebuild broken relationships, and provide the hope needed for change. Contact a compassionate treatment provider to progress into sobriety.
Author: Krystina Murray | Last Edited: August 4, 2021