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Alcoholism is a serious condition that many people underestimate. Many people enjoy occasionally drinking with their friends and family. Alcohol can allow people to relax and have a good time while at parties or social settings. However, some people take it too far and become dependent on it. Alcoholism is defined as a progressive disease. In other words, alcoholics continuously consume larger amounts of alcohol in order to get the same effects that they initially enjoyed. It is also referred to as a disease because people will sometimes continue consuming it, even after they are well aware of the negative impact it has on their life.
Drinking in reasonable amounts from time to time is not a bad thing. However, binge drinking and overconsumption of alcohol can lead to negative effects that can potentially ruin lives.
It is important to distinguish between binge drinking and alcoholism. While they are similar and people often do both, there is actually a distinction between the two.
Binge drinking is drinking more than 6 alcoholic drinks within a relatively short period of time (Corbett). Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a more serious condition that results in withdrawals when alcohol is not consumed for a period of time (Corbett). Many alcoholics are binge drinkers. However, not all binge drinkers are alcoholics. People sometimes binge drink on rare occasions. While they are putting themselves at risk of getting too drunk and possibly passing out, they do not fulfill the definition of an alcoholic. An alcoholic is someone that regularly consumes many alcoholic drinks (Corbett).
When they stop drinking, they experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The specific point at which a binge drinker gets classified as an alcoholic can sometimes be hard to identify. The frequency with which a person drinks is usually the best indicator of when alcoholism is becoming a real problem.
Alcoholism can wreak havoc on family life. One reason that it is particularly problematic for families is that alcoholism often affects many different aspects of a person’s life. Parents have the responsibility of providing food and shelter for their children. An alcoholic may often experience problems with their work life (Heffner). Some alcoholics get too drunk and forget to go to work. Others get arrested for attempting to drive to work while under the influence. It is also possible for an alcoholic to have difficulty finding work in the first place. If they get fired from their job for alcoholism, then it will be difficult for them to use that job as a referral for any future jobs that they pursue. If parents cannot provide for their children, then family life suffers as a result.
Another way in which alcoholism can ruin families is through domestic violence. When people become heavily intoxicated, their normal brain’s decision-making patterns are altered (Heffner). The areas of the brain that control moral reasoning are less active when a person is drunk. As such, alcoholics often make impulsive decisions that they later regret. For example, a father may become violent with his family while he is drunk. Even if he is not an ordinarily violent person, the alcohol can impair his judgment and make him more prone to violence. It is important to mention that alcohol has not been identified as a cause of violence (Bennett). Rather, it can simply make people more prone to violence (Bennett). A non-violent person may struggle from alcoholism without ever becoming violent. Similarly, a sober person can become extremely violent. If a person is struggling with other stressful factors, alcohol can make them more prone to becoming violent.
Children are often neglected in homes with alcoholic parents. Since a main feature of alcoholism is drinking excessive amounts, it can be challenging for parents to give their children enough attention and love. People often sleep after they drink for extended periods of time. If children are too young to feed themselves, this means that they will go neglected for those periods of time in which parents are too inebriated to attend to their own children. Alcohol also impairs memory function. If parents are too inebriated, they may forget to feed or otherwise take care of their children.
Alcoholism can also cause families to become separated. Obviously, it is embarrassing for family members to watch their parent or sibling act in abnormal ways while they are drunk. The problem can become even worse if the individual is always drunk and is barely capable of holding conversations with other family members. Families are meant as ways of offering social support to close relatives. When a person loses their connection with their family as a result of alcoholism, the results can be negative for both parties. Family members may feel ashamed of how their alcoholic relative is acting. In an attempt to hide that embarrassment, they may limit their contact with the relative. They may also opt to have family gatherings away from the alcoholic. This can be hard for the family, but it can also be hard for the alcoholic. Dealing with a serious disease can be challenging. It is often much more challenging to deal with it alone.
Medical costs can be another way in which alcoholism tears families apart. While in the early stages of drinking alcoholics may feel great, the long-term impacts of alcoholism cannot be ignored. Even if it takes several years before major symptoms arise, they usually do arise. If an alcoholic has lost their job and spiraled downward into their addiction, then the costs of treatment can be hard for their family to bear. Costs can vary. For some, the only costs involved are treatment plans for recovering from alcohol addiction. However, some other individuals drink so heavily that they ruin their liver or other organs. For those individuals, medical costs can become much more severe. In addition, if they are unable to work while getting treatment, then their family members may be obligated to cover their medical expenses.
Lastly, alcoholism can have a negative impact on children by providing a poor example of how they should live. To young kids that grow up around alcoholism and do not know any better, they may be substantially more likely to turn to alcohol in their future lives as a way of coping with life. Children may have emotional problems as a result of being neglected as children. If they watched their parents constantly drinking, they may conclude that such behavior is normal. They may eventually turn to alcohol as a way of coping with their own emotional problems.
Alcoholism is a serious medical condition that can potentially ruin family lives. In addition to being unhealthy for the person consuming the alcohol, the effects of being drunk all of the time are hard to ignore. A parent’s work and family life can potentially be destroyed as a result of addiction to alcohol. Having a few drinks from time to time is no big deal. Depending on alcohol every day in order to function is much more of a problem that should be addressed sooner rather than later.
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