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Effects Of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol: A Slow Destroyer

Alcohol abuse is a brutal enemy, wreaking havoc on the body, eroding relationships, doing damage that carries down through generations. Where small amounts of alcohol used responsible can enhance life and even promote health, alcohol abuse destroys lives.
Understanding and defending against alcohol abuse:

  • Alcohol damages the body
  • Alcohol damages social structures
  • Protecting yourself from alcohol abuse

Alcohol’s Savage Physical Destruction

While small amounts of alcohol may provide some health benefits, regular drinking of any sort entails risk, and abusive drinking always does some physical damage. Frequent and extensive abuse produces severe damage. Damage is done to almost all the body. The brain and nervous system suffer slow destruction of cells and degradation of function: reflexes slow, balance and dexterity are lost, the sensory system becomes unreliable, failing to detect real stimulus while reporting false, “ghost” sensations.

Cognitive ability is also damaged. Memory functions become unreliable, logical processes break down, emotions become increasingly erratic. Hallucinations and delusions are not uncommon in advanced cases of alcoholism.

The liver, kidneys and circulatory system begin to fail. Digestive problems become common. Malnutrition and diabetes both threaten the health of alcoholics. The odds of cancer rise. Delirium tremens – convulsions accompanied by extreme mental disruption and bodily breakdown – may prove fatal.

The Damage to Relationships

Alcoholism has a terrible, destructive affect on relationships. There’s almost no aspect of trust and security that isn’t threatened by the various problems created by alcohol abuse. Perhaps the first is the reliable tendency for alcoholics to reflexively try to encourage others to support and empower their alcoholism. Faced with the problem of increasing chemical dependency and increasing discomfort from family, friends, and associates, the alcoholic exerts social pressure of various sorts on what seems the more flexible of the two: the humans that surround the drinker. Compared to challenging the addiction, trying to make other people cooperate with the demands of the chemical seems the lesser feat.

Further, alcoholism makes it difficult to live up to the standards and obligations of a full adult. Therefore, it becomes easy to fall back on behaviors that either leaves others to take up slack, or which try to reallocate guilt and responsibility. Both prove difficult for others to ignore. The longer the period of alcoholism continues, the more deeply relationships are placed under strain. Those least strongly bound to a drinker, or most resolute in their determination to resist the damage, break away, severing relationships. Those most determined to stay and help, or least able to leave, are slowly caught up with the drinker in the spreading patterns of codependence and dysfunction.

Protection and Escape from Alcohol Abuse

Both the alcoholic and the network of people trapped in codependence with him or her, can only be helped by ending the addiction and repairing and replacing the patterns of thought and action that allowed the addiction to flourish. For many, this is best accomplished by sending an alcoholic through a well-designed, thorough alcohol addiction program, and then following up with both personal and family/group counseling combined with regular participation by the addict, and often by immediate family and friends, in a 12-step program.

Finding the right programs and counselors to meet the needs of an addict and his circle of loved ones can be challenging. However, the task can be made easier through the use of the many available referral resources present online and in most communities. Hospitals, clinics, health insurance customer service providers, and many religious institutions can often give sound referrals. Professional referral services can also be a help.

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