Alcohol is the most widely used and easy to access drug in the world. Yes, alcohol is a drug. It is sold around the world, for often as cheap as a couple of dollars. Almost every corner market and gas station in the United States offers walls full of alcoholic beverages. 61% of countries in the world have the legal drinking age set to 18-19 years old, with many partaking well before they reach the government-appointed age.
Alcohol has become so ubiquitous in today’s society that most people have become complacent to the true dangers that hide in plain sight. According to a survey conducted by the CDC from 2006-2010, alcohol abuse led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost PER YEAR! That is insane. For comparison, less than 5,000 people died from cocaine overdoses in 2010. Alcohol abuse not only leads to staggering death numbers, but also long-term negative effects for those that are still living. Liver and kidney damage are two of the major bodily systems that will fail later in life, resulting in thousands of people needing transplants as they age.
Because this problem has become so large in the United States, alcoholism is treated extremely seriously by medical professionals, and there are thousands of support centers that are dedicated to leading people to sobriety.
The first step is detoxification to allow a patient’s body to begin the healing process, and to asses any damage that may have already occurred to the patient’s vital organs. Alcohol withdrawals can be violent and extremely uncomfortable, with patient’s experiencing uncontrollable body shakes and aggression.
Several prescription medications have been created to ease the transition from alcohol dependency. These medications work with a patient’s body to reduce the perceived desire to need more alcohol. Eventually patients may be able to stop taking these medications depending on how their long-term treatment is unfolding. As of now there is no official “cure” for alcoholism, and future relapses are considered to be a serious obstacle for those currently living a sober life.
Mental health therapists work to find and conquer the disorders that lead to alcohol addiction. Many patients were exposed to alcohol and alcohol abuse at a young age, with a parent or close relative who suffered from alcoholism.
As the detoxification and medications begin to cleanse the body, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous play a key role in life-long support. With the presence of this disease throughout their remaining lifetime, those in sober living gain strength from spending time with others in the same position. Being able to admit weakness and express thoughts about taking “just one” drink to others facing the same struggle results in feelings of guilt or loneliness melting away.
These 12 step programs, sober living homes, and alcoholic addiction support groups help patients gain control back of their lives.
Just because alcohol is prevalent in our society does not mean that it is harmless. Please recognize the warning signs that you may be on the path to alcohol abuse. If drinking is causing a problem for you at work, school, or with your friends and family, if it often leads to blacking out, throwing up, or memory loss, if you have been increasing your intake on a regular basis, or if you have frequent urges to drink, you may have a problem with alcohol abuse. This will only lead to further addiction if you try to solve these problems on your own. Please contact someone to begin your life of sobriety. You are not alone in this struggle.