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Family Guidance Blog

Alcohol Abuse is on the Rise but Many Don’t Seek Treatment

Close to One-Third of Americans Have an Alcohol Abuse History

alcohol abuseThe Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a new report which shows that nearly 30 percent of Americans have had an alcohol abuse problem at some point during their lifetime. The report also highlighted that barely 20 percent of those who abuse alcohol ever look for help.

The new statistics are based on the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. That survey included 36,000 interviews conducted between 2012-2013. The survey revealed that young singles are most affected by alcohol use disorder with 37 percent of those 18-29 and 34 percent of those 30-44 qualifying for the diagnosis. In keeping with prior research, men were more often affected than women.

One reason for the new figure may have to do with changes the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made to the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-V). In that edition the APA redefined the way alcohol abuse is diagnosed and labeled. The new DSM-V no longer makes a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency but combines the two under one title with 11 diagnostic criteria. Patients with two or more symptoms would qualify for the alcohol use disorder diagnosis.

Why do so few of those affected by alcohol misuse ask for help? It could be that there is still some stigma attached to the idea of alcohol abuse. It may also be that there is often another co-occurring mental health condition which prevents them from thinking clearly about the possibility of help. If someone you love is having a problem with alcohol, please contact us at Family Guidance Center. Help is available.

What Triggers Alcohol Abuse as a Coping Mechanism for Some People?

Research Suggests Alcohol Abuse May be Linked to Adverse Childhood

alcohol abuseFor many people drinking is used as a way to cope with stresses in their life. Too often, this leads to over-consumption. It may be problems at work or problems at home that feel unmanageable but, whichever it may be, alcohol abuse is not a healthy answer. What scientists don’t yet understand is why similar situations do not create similar stress responses in different people.

Some people with difficult marriages, stressful jobs or other challenges (health, financial) are able to find ways to cope which don’t involve excessive drinking. For other people, these same circumstances feel beyond control and alcohol abuse provides the escape they crave. What makes the difference?

Researchers hypothesize that part of the answer could reach back into a person’s early childhood. Numerous animal studies show a link between the lack of close parental bonding during infancy and greater alcohol consumption later on. The thought is that long-term stress in childhood could change the way a person’s stress responses operate throughout life. This would leave some individuals more stress-sensitive and therefore, perhaps, more susceptible to later alcohol abuse.

Risk factors are not determiners. Just because a person experiences a stressful childhood doesn’t guarantee that they will abuse alcohol. If they learn healthy coping skills or possess a strong social support network, then alcohol abuse is not a foregone conclusion.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn healthy coping skills. At Family Guidance Center our mental health professionals can help you learn positive ways of dealing with stress in your life. There is no way to remove stress from life, but there are healthy ways to handle stress. Whatever your current stresses may be, let us help you learn to deal with them in a way that will make you feel healthier and stronger.

Why the High-Functioning “Alcoholic” is Still Dealing with Alcoholism

Alcoholism 7Alcoholism often brings to mind images of a negative stereotype, but a good number of people addicted to alcohol bear little resemblance to the stereotype. They are people who meet several diagnostic criteria for alcoholism while still managing to hold their life together with apparent success. They are high-functioning alcoholics.

The high functioning alcoholic goes to work or school each day, pays their bills and may have an intact marriage; but beneath the surface, things are not as they should be. They are good enough, though, for the person to feel justified in denying that they have any kind of alcohol problem. After all, alcoholics don’t mow their yard, get promoted and remember birthdays ….right?

The high functioning alcoholic may do all of this and more, and yet have an addiction to alcohol that is degrading the quality of their life and the lives of close family members. For example, one sign of alcoholism is tolerance for alcohol. Does the person need to drink more alcohol today to achieve the same feelings than they did in the past? People who drink habitually develop a tolerance for alcohol and will need ever-increasing amounts of it.

Another sign of alcoholism is a preoccupation with alcohol. If the person spends a significant amount of time thinking about drinking, or planning when, what and where to drink it is an unhealthy distraction. Alcoholics become edgy and uncomfortable if they cannot have a drink at the time and place where they expect to be able to drink. They don’t recognize this as withdrawal, but that is just what it is.

Another sign of alcoholism is a changing social landscape. People addicted to alcohol enjoy spending time with others who drink and rarely with anyone else. They will avoid social occasions which don’t include alcohol and won’t have close friends who do not also drink.

The high-functioning alcoholic usually thinks they are just fine, when they are anything but. For help knowing how to approach someone in your life contact the professionals at Family Guidance. They understand and can offer needed support.

The Effects of Alcohol Consumption in the Workplace

According to the National Council on Drug Addiction and Alcoholism around 15 million Americans are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking takes a toll on every aspect of life, including a person’s work life. Someone may be dependent on alcohol or they may be an occasional binger, but either way, abuse of alcohol leads to negative results on the job.

People who drink heavily tend to demonstrate a higher level of absenteeism from work. And even whenAlcoholism 8 they are at work, people who had a lot to drink the night before or who drink during lunch or scheduled work breaks work less efficiently and can place themselves or others in dangerous situations.

Workers with some form of drinking problem are 2.7 times more apt to cause an injury at work compared to workers without a drinking issue. Hospital emergency room staff report that 35 percent of workplace injuries they see involve misuse of alcohol. And 16 percent of patients who suffered a workplace injury show up in the emergency room with alcohol in their system.

Whether the person is an dependent on alcohol or drinks inappropriately around work-times they bring harm to the work environment. Problem drinkers are often late to work, drowsy at work, bring down the morale of fellow workers and bring a greater risk for conflict to the office.

They are also more likely to be involved in a deadly work-related accident. The person who abuses alcohol is more likely to harm themselves and those around them.

Because drinking affects the workplace so dramatically Employee Assisted Programs were developed to offer intervention. These programs have enjoyed great success in confronting alcohol misuse and in getting workers and their families to take advantage of local services for treatment.

Family Guidance is a community resource for anyone struggling with alcohol addiction or dependence. Family Guidance offers programs for the person and also for the family of that person, because drinking affects everyone in the home. If you or someone you care about, perhaps even someone at work, has a problem with alcohol, let them know about Family Guidance Center and the help available before the problem escalates even further.

Growing Numbers of Women are Abusing Alcohol

Alcohol Abuse 1In terms of percentages there are still more American men drinking to excess compared to women. But the number of women abusing alcohol in this country is growing rapidly and that is cause for concern. According to the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse more than five percent of women in the U.S. misuse alcohol.

There are certain risk factors which can make it more likely that a woman will abuse alcohol. Experienced trauma or alcoholism in the family tree can increase the likelihood that a woman will develop a problem relationship with alcohol. But for a growing number of women in this country, drinking – including binge drinking – is becoming all too common apart from any obvious risk factors.

Perhaps it is the busy lives women now lead. Women who rush home from work to start dinner and drive the kids to various evening activities can feel as though there is no margin where they can rest and unwind. An evening drink of alcohol to relax can easily become a steadily increasing habit.

Women who abuse alcohol face some pretty serious health risks from doing so, more so even than men. Problems like alcohol hepatitis and alcohol-associated heart disease are a greater risk for women who drink than for men who partake. This is mostly because women lack the body mass to metabolize alcohol as rapidly as men though hormonal differences may also play a role.

Alcohol abuse affects not only the women who are addicted but their family, friends, co-workers and many others around them. Alcoholism is a disease that an increasing number of women are struggling with. If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, help is available. Contact the St Joseph Family Guidance today.