Alcoholism &
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Alcohol Abuse
For most people who drink, alcohol is a pleasant Alcohol Abuse
accompaniment to social activities. Moderate alcohol Alcohol abuse differs from alcoholism in that it does use —up to 2 drinks per day for men and one drink per not include an extremely strong craving for alcohol, loss day for women or older people— is not harmful for of control over drinking or physical dependence. Alcohol most adults. Nonetheless, a large number of people get abuse is a defined pattern of drinking that results in one or into serious trouble because of their drinking. Nearly 14 more of the following within a 12-month period: million Americans —1 in every 13 adults— abuse alcohol • Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home or are alcoholic. Many more adults engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems, including • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, binge drinking or heavy drinking on a regular basis. In such as while driving or operating machinery; addition, 53 percent of people in the U.S. report that one • Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem. as being arrested for drunk driving or for physically The consequences of alcohol misuse are serious— in many cases, life threatening. Heavy drinking can increase • Continued drinking despite having ongoing the risk of some kinds of cancer, cause liver cirrhosis, relationship problems that are caused or worsened by problems with the immune system, and harm the fetus during pregnancy. Drinking increases the risk of accidents Although alcohol abuse is basically different from and injuries. In addition, suicides and homicides are alcoholism, many effects of alcohol abuse are also most likely to be committed by persons who have been In economic terms, alcohol related problems cost What Are the Signs of a Problem?
society approximately $185 billion per year. In human Answering the following questions can help tell you 1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your Signs and Symptoms
2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your Alcoholism
Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is 3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking? 4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning 1. Craving: A strong need, or compulsion to drink.
(as an “eye-opener”) to steady you or get rid of a 2. Loss of Control: The inability to limit one’s drinking
One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol 3. Physical Dependence: Withdrawal symptoms such
problem. More than one “yes” indicates a high likelihood as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety occur that a problem exists. In either case, it is important that when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy you see your physician or other health care provider right away to discuss your answers. They can help you 4. Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of
determine whether you have a drinking problem and help with a course of action. Even if you answered “no” to Some people do not understand why an alcoholic all of the above questions, if you have drinking-related can’t “just use a little willpower” to stop drinking. problems affecting your work, relationships, health, or Alcoholism has little to do with willpower. Alcoholics are the law, you should seek professional help. The effects of in the grip of a powerful uncontrollable need for alcohol alcohol abuse can be extremely serious, even fatal, both to that overrides their ability to stop drinking. In order to stop drinking, people with alcoholism need to seek assistance. With treatment and support, many individuals are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives. Serving people in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford Counties.
Northern Lakes Community Mental Health believes this information to be damages arising from its supply, performance or use, and makes no warranty accurate at the time of publication. While every care has been taken in its of any kind, either expressed or implied in relation to this publication. For preparation, professional advice should be sought when necessary. Northern more information contact Northern Lakes CMH at 1-800-492-5742 or (231) Lakes CMH cannot be liable for any error or omission in this publication or for Many people wonder why some individuals can Anonymous meetings. “AA” is an effective mutual help use alcohol without problems but others cannot. One program for recovering alcoholics. Not everyone responds important reason has to do with genetics. Scientists have to “AA” and its message, and other recovery approaches found that having an alcoholic family member makes are available. It is important to recognize that although it more likely that if you choose to drink, you too may alcoholism can be treated, it cannot be cured. develop alcoholism. Genes, however, are not the whole story. In fact, scientists now believe that certain factors Help for Alcohol Abuse
in the environment influence whether a person with a If your health care provider determines that you are genetic risk for alcoholism ever develops the disease. not alcohol dependent, yet are involved in a pattern of A person’s risk for developing alcoholism can increase alcohol abuse, there are steps you can take: based on the person’s environment, including where and • Examine the benefits of stopping an unhealthy how he or she lives; family, friends, and culture; peer pressure, and even how easy it is to get alcohol.
• Set a drinking goal for yourself – be it abstaining or Helping Yourself
• Examine the situations that trigger your unhealthy Accepting the fact that help is needed for an alcohol drinking and develop new ways of handling those problem may not be easy. Keep in mind that the sooner you get help, the better your chances are for a successful Some people choose to attend AA meetings for Any concerns you may have about discussing drinking- related problems with others may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism. The myth prevails that an alcohol problem is a moral weakness. As a result, you National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism may feel that to seek help is to admit some shameful defect in yourself. In fact, alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma. Moreover, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous For more information contact
payoff— a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life. When you visit your health care provider, you will Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services be asked a number of questions. Try to answer as ful y and honestly as you can. You will also be given a physical exam. If your health care provider concludes that you may be dependent on alcohol, you may be referred to see a Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
specialist in treating alcoholism. You should be involved in any decisions and have all treatment choices explained Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) World Services, Inc.
Alcoholism Treatment
The type of treatment that you receive depends on the severity of your alcoholism and the resources that are available in your community. Treatment may include National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, detoxification (the process of get ing the alcohol out of your system); taking doctor-prescribed medications such as Antabuse or ReVia, to help prevent a relapse once drinking has stopped; and individual/group counseling. Counseling helps to teach alcoholics ways in which they can identify situations and feelings that trigger the urge to drink and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to find new ways to cope that do not include alcohol use. Treatments are often provided on an outpatient basis. Support of family members is important to the recovery process. Many programs offer brief marital and family counseling as part of the treatment process. Programs may also link individuals with important community resources, such as legal assistance, job training, childcare, and Virtual y al treatment of alcoholism includes Alcoholics



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