A person’s body that is physically dependent on alcohol is known as alcoholism. An alcoholic can be called an addict; someone who is addicted to alcohol. (More on the definition of “addict” is further in this essay). Alcoholism is a very serious illness that affects about 30 percent of people; 10 percent of women and 20 percent of men (Green Health Edition, Chapter8, page 222H). People all over the world and throughout history have used alcohol for every kind of social gatherings to religious ceremonies.
It is said that alcohol enhances celebrations or special times; however, people have rarely ever thought about the impact alcohol can have. Research collected from the textbook, Green Health Edition, Chapter 8, page 222, even shows that very low levels of alcohol consumption may lower some health risks. However, while alcohol can sometimes play a positive role in some people’s lives (people who can control it); it needs to be remembered that it is a chemical substance that affects a person’s general personality and behavior.
Alcoholism can affect individuals, as well as their families in a number of ways. Living a life of an alcoholic or a non-alcoholic is entirely a choice. Knowing the difference between an alcoholic lifestyle versus a sober lifestyle can hopefully help an individual make the right choice. Alcohol affects everyone on different levels, where one area may be more affected than another, depending on the alcoholic. Alcohol has a major negative impact on the individual as well as anyone else that is involved, and may need treatment to get their lives back to normal.
The lifestyle of an alcoholic and non-alcoholic differentiates in many ways, ranging from family relations, to finances, to emotional/behavioral issues. Alcoholics can disrupt family life and cause harmful effects that can last a lifetime. Family interaction between an alcoholic differ majorly compared to family interaction involving a non-alcoholic. An alcoholic family or a family that has an alcoholic spouse or parent or parents suffers in many ways. If there is a celebration of any kind, the alcoholic will tend to bring alcohol to it, show up drunk or avoid going altogether.
Drunkards will frequently withdraw themselves from family or social gatherings in order to commit more time to their drinking. Approximately 71 percent of drinkers have reported heavy alcohol consumption prior to attending a party, sporting event, or school-sponsored activity (Green Health Edition Chapter 8, page 223). This can ruin the celebration and cause emotional distress for the sober family members. A non-addict family will tend to have smooth running, well organized, have happy company at their celebrations or family gatherings. Another way a family can be affected by alcoholism is where a parent is the alcoholic.
Most commonly, the majority of alcoholics are parents or those who have a similar type of framework of some sort in which they have the authority to be influential. Parental responsibilities are often ignored, leaving children to take care of themselves. This type of behavior creates an evident formula for catastrophe as toddlers, adolescents, and teenagers need embracive attention for adequate development. Children and young teens that see alcohol abuse tend to become more “susceptible to abusing alcohol themselves” (yourbesthealthcare. blogspot. om, para. 6) and at an early age. Parents can become verbally and physically abusive successfully cutting emotional ties that become relevantly involved with the family relationship and with their children and perhaps even spouse. This could lead to a divorce which causes even more emotional drama on young children. A non-alcoholic family is more prone to have a happy functional family. The children do better in school, behave better in social events, teens perform better academically, and will most likely not fall into the pattern of alcohol abuse.
Those are the families whom are those that communicate with one another, work and compromise together, parent together, and the children have a safer and stable environment and foundation to grow up on. Alcoholics go through money just as fast as they do their alcohol. Fiscal disciplinary actions are almost unavoidable when a person develops an alcohol addiction. Just financially supporting the habit of drinking alcohol alone can off balance a family budget. An alcoholic may take money aside or hide spending money for the wanted alcohol.
Some liquor can indeed be quite taxing to a budget, especially when an addict’s tolerance keeps growing. Alcoholics sometimes depend on other family members to step in and help with their finances. This is where family member can become the alcoholic’s enabler without realizing it. “Families are desperate to fix the drinker’s problem, to show them there is a better way to live, because one believes it will demonstrate how much they are loved and they will return the love” (Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2012, page 6). Sometimes alcoholics may steal possessions or money to support their addiction.
Alcoholism can have a tremendous financial impact on an individual and families. With increased finances coming from the budget and going to the increased need for alcohol, “financial duties, such as bill payments, can be put at risk because it is ‘necessary’ for the alcoholic to get a drink” (yourbesthealthcare. blogspot. com, para. 4). Besides money leaving the family budget, alcoholics can even put their job security at risk causing an inconsistency that generally is noticed by supervisors, which in turn are reported to the boss. This can cause frequent job changes and the loss of jobs, which causes the finances to fluctuate.
Sometimes a person may use this for an excuse to drink even more because they cannot deal with the financial strains and stress. Not only does a person’s finance suffer from the wanted addiction itself, but also their pocket book’s hole can grow even bigger when you mix it with legal issues. There can be legal fees, higher insurance fees, court costs, fines, and if you are involved in an automobile accident and you get a DUI, you could face the cost of car repairs, medical bills or replacement costs. The financial pinch can hurt worse if the individual goes to jail or even loses their driver’s license.
Losing a driver’s license can make it more difficult to keep or get a job. If your loved one, whether it is a son/daughter or a spouse, goes to jail or even, gets sentenced to an extensive rehabilitation facility, this, too, can cause financial strain. On top of losing the extra income through the now absent alcoholic, extra funds are needed to be placed on the individual’s book so they can order from Commissary, or make weekly phone calls that get expensive, and extra funds are also needed to travel to see your alcoholic, loved one. This all adds up and definitely adds to a major financial strain. The fundamental activities of daily living and many of life’s chances to further one’s economic standing are closely tied to an individual’s current financial resources” (Pearlin & Radabaugh, page 98, 1976). Sober families have a tendency to have better money management and are able to enjoy some of life’s finest things because they do not have money going to unwanted or unnecessary things, such as everything mentioned above. These are families and individuals who are able to rationally come up with financial goal plans, have the brain capacity to critical think, make effective decisions, and the ability to solve problems.
They are able to prioritize goals and evaluate the importance of each while taking into consideration of the family and how they would affect them. Attitudes and values are more positive in this type of environment and most decisions are based on attitudes and values. As long as they are positive and healthy, then the outcome will be a healthy and positive one for the whole family. A big way that all families are affected by alcoholism is the alcoholic’s behavior, especially behind the wheel.
Every family is affected by this, even families not involved in the alcoholic’s life. According to some research from the Green Health Edition textbook, Chapter 8, page 232, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for all age groups from 5 to 45 years old and in 2008 nearly 32 percent of traffic fatalities involved at least one driver who was under the influence of alcohol. That is about 11,773 alcohol impaired driving fatalities in just one year. This survey represents an average of one alcohol-related fatality approximately every 45 minutes.
About 49 percent of alcohol-related crashes were reported during the weekends, the days where most families go out to spend some quality family time, and it is said that the majority of alcohol-related fatal crashes occur at night compared to during the day, as well as the day or days of the week. According to: Drinking and Driving: Chapter Three, Alcohol and Its Consequences- Drinking and Driving Laws Insurance Institute of Indiana, an influenced driver has a risk of the likelihood of dying in a single vehicle crash is more than 382 times higher than for a nondrinker.
Research from A. R. Phoenix Resources, Inc. finds that around 10 percent to 25 percent of drinkers report drinking to get psychological relief; to regulate negative emotion. It is said that most alcoholics drink because they are depressed, trying to hide certain unwanted emotions, or even suppress trauma from the past or present. The reason alcoholics drink varies from one drinker to the next, and the list can be endless. Why they drink is not too important, it is how they handle themselves. According to the 1996 A. R. Phoenix Resources Inc. n inmate workbook titled A New Freedom, section A Guide to Using Your New Coping Skills, there is a flow of events that lead to inappropriate behavior for individuals who go through negative emotions or do not know how to cope with them in a positive manner. The first stage is “Vulnerabilities”. These areas can put the alcoholic at risk, especially when he/she is not feeling very lovable, capable or worthwhile. It also includes discomfort with their own physical appearance, or health, unresolved or unaccepted issues of grief, anger, anxiety, or traumas.
Next, is “Triggers”. A specific trigger, which can be an event or a thought (this includes people, places, things, and situations), can hit an individual in the most vulnerability spot. The next step is “Stinking Thinking”. Not everyone reacts appropriately to events or triggers. The way an individual may perceive an event may be faulty. It is common to overreact to certain triggers. Alcoholics tend to create unnecessary problems for themselves because of this. The fourth step is “Uncomfortable Feelings”.
When an alcoholic thinks about these events, one may experience uncomfortable feelings, such as loneliness, anger, anxiety, sadness, or shame. These are normal feelings, but people choose to deal with them appropriately or in a dangerous fashion. Alcoholics will try to drink to forget about or wash away these feelings, where a non-alcoholic will tend to work through emotions and handle them positively. Then, “Isolation” is next. It often helps to talk about these feelings with others. If an individual is physically or emotionally isolated, then they have no help.
This is where one will turn to drinking. Sometimes the isolation is deliberate; people have guilty secrets and stay away from others so the secrets do not get discovered. Next is the need for “Control”. It is common to feel the need to gain more control in our lives. People try to control the uncomfortable feelings and symptoms, but occasionally this means to control or manipulate relationships or the environment to create feelings of comfort or to reduce the discomfort. The eighth step in the cycle is the “Set-Up”.
At this stage alcoholics have not fixed anything yet. An alcoholic will usually think about how they can seek relief for the discomfort- or seek a positive feeling (getting drunk) to deal with emotional issues. A non-alcoholic will tend to think how they can use positive coping skills at this point. Next is the “Behavior”. This is where the thoughts are put into action. People achieve relief for the discomfort through behavior. For an alcoholic, the relief is only temporary. The real problem was never addressed and this can cause additional problems.
Alcoholics then, normally, face guilt afterwards. An individual may recognize that they have a problem and realize that they had made a mistake (again) and will deal with their feelings of guilt by justifying, rationalizing, or making promises to themselves or others, all while pretending everything is normal. An alcoholic typically thinks oneself is “fine”; thus they will continue on with their life with the additional vulnerability of having failed again. This pattern repeats itself again and again; it becomes a cycle.
When a non-alcoholic faces this similar stage of emotional issues, they are typically more capable of handling the issues in a more effective way. They plan ahead on how to avoid temptations of making themselves feel better and avoid difficult situations. They tend to slow down, recognize what their feelings are telling them and they give themselves better options. Instead of drinking, one may choose to do breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, prayer, or seek out a supportive friend that they can talk with.
Non-alcoholics have a different perspective on life and are able to focus on what is important. They are stronger and more capable at standing up for themselves and to themselves. They are able to love and accept themselves and others, and are able to keep their life, thoughts and feelings in balance. ‘People who are alcoholics are considered to be addicts; addicted to alcohol. According to Carl Jung, addiction is a spiritual illness, a spiritual search. One of the most poignant descriptions of addiction is found in Kahlil Gibran’s poem, “Jesus Knocking at the Gates of Heaven”.
Addicts mean to go one place, and finishing in another. According to Dr. Carl Jung, they mean to find God. In a letter to Bill W. , the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Jung wrote regarding a patient. “His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God. ” Jung went on to explain, “You see ‘alcohol’ in Latin is spiritus, and you see the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.
The helpful formula therefore is: “spiritus contra spiritum” meaning, exchanging the ‘spirit of alcohol’ for the ‘spiritual awakening’ of Alcoholics Anonymous. In truth, most using addicts have to be “lifted up” by some outside force, family, friends, and society – to be restored to good health and healing. People need to know that even for those who seem initially not to want it, and some might say deserve it, recovery is possible’ (Jeanette McDougal, Addiction is a Spiritual Illness 2009). ‘Despite growing recognition of our national alcohol problem, fewer than 10 percent of alcoholics in the United States receive any care.
Factors contributing to this low figure include inability or unwillingness to admit to an alcohol problem; the social stigma attached to alcoholism; breakdowns in referral and delivery systems (failure of physicians or psychotherapists to follow up on referrals, failure of clients to follow through with recommended treatments, or failure of rehabilitation facilities to give quality care), and failure of the professional medical establishment to recognize and diagnose alcoholic symptoms among patients.
Most problem drinkers who seek help have experienced a turning point: A spouse walks out, taking children and possessions; the boss issues an ultimatum too dry out or ship out. Devoid of hope, physically depleted, and spiritually despairing, the alcoholic finally recognizes that alcohol controls his or her life. The first steps on the road to recovery are to regain that control and to assume responsibility for personal actions’ (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, (Dec 1994): pages 291-308).
Alcohol kills more people under age 21 than cocaine, marijuana, and heroin combined (Green Health Edition Chapter8, page 223). The fact is, alcohol is a drug, and if it is not used responsibly, it can become dangerous. The lifestyle of an alcoholic and non-alcoholic differentiates in many ways, ranging from family relations, to finances, to emotional/behavioral issues. Alcoholism has negative effects on family relations. Emotional, physical, and even spiritual bonds can be broken. Divorces can happen and if there are children involved, they may pick up the habit at an early age.
If a family’s reliance on financial needs is jeopardized in anyway by the alcoholic’s so-called “needs”, can cause a burden a family may not be able to handle. The alcoholism illness leaves the inability for the addict to provide for the family to the same standard of a non-alcoholic is drastically decreased, depriving the family of necessities. Alcoholism effects families by the individual’s choice of behavior because of emotional issues, however this affects the individual more so than the family.
Alcoholics drink for many reasons, which are not important, but the self-destructing behavior is. Addicts tend to get themselves into a repeating cycle that will not end until they get help. Having the education on the effects of alcoholism can hopefully help aid a person to choose to live a non-alcoholic lifestyle. Alcoholics Anonymous as well as alcohol treatment provides a humane, successful second chance to lead a healthy, productive, alcohol free life.