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Things to Know About Alcohol Use

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About Alcohol Use

Debates and Actual Issues

One of the most common questions asked by parents or friends is how to help a person with alcohol abuse issues. This subject is also very particular, as it deals with each person individually. There are diagnosable factors about those individuals who struggle with the abuse of alcohol. It also includes the debates about whether alcoholism is a disease. Is it a choice? A bio-chemical imbalance? or similar views. Despite these views and opinions, they don’t necessarily help the family living with someone who drinks too much.

Knowing the cause of such a condition helps prescribe a treatment plan. And there is clear evidence that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) is a diagnosable condition in newborns. In fact, Canadian researchers estimate that 9 in 1000 babies born in Canada suffer from this condition – https://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/fasd-fw-etcaf-ca/pdf/fasd-fw_e.pdf

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Various Causes of Alcohol Misuse

Recognizing alcohol abuse as a serious issue in our current society is well worth our time to know a bit about this devastating situation. The abuse of alcohol is arrived at by limited factors, though these are not the only reasons they are prevalent in today’s society.

  1. Social acceptance. It is the most prevalent drug in our society today. Alcohol is served not only at weddings but at funerals as well. It is offered if one had a bad day just as much as if someone had a great day. You can find it at gas stations, convenience stores, planes, trains, sports arenas, and so on.
  2. Peer pressure. Here is the most common starting point. As teens, many began their drinking due to this peer pressure. If a colleague drinks, we accept joining in if we want to be part of the group. And because of its social acceptance – why not? It can’t be harmful, right?

3.  Hereditary. We can see that Mom and Dad may have a drinking condition that is passed down to their children. It is not uncommon for a child to see their parents drinking at a social party to associate pleasure with drinking. And so, this becomes their behaviour as well.

4.  As a solution. People can use alcohol as a solution when faced with an unwanted life situation that is difficult, painful, or emotional. Just as a person uses illicit drugs to numb these undesirable feelings, alcohol numbs out these unwanted troublesome issues. Drinking tends to numb out temporarily, pain, failure, losses, shame, stress, etc.

There are other factors associated with alcohol misuse, though these mentioned will often explain the consequences of someone’s misuse. It will help understand the degree of alcoholism as well.

Degrees of Alcoholism

We know that people do not come into the world with a beer or a shot of whiskey in their hands. However, once a person is introduced to the substance, they may or may not agree with it. This is a very vital point to take into consideration. Not everyone will automatically agree and continue to drink. Some may not have a body that agrees with alcohol – fermented yeast, fruits, etc. Others can agree with it and will continue to agree with it. This is not hard to understand. It’s simply a question of taste and, of course – choice. You either like plum pudding or you don’t.

Stage 1. Occasional use, including Binge drinking

Here, we see experimentation with alcohol, trying Tequila for the first time, or a new Rhum, etc. It is also seen with youths when they drink in large amounts in one night, also known as binging.  

Stage 2. Increased Drinking

This stage is when consumption becomes more frequent. Instead of drinking only on occasions, it becomes regular, such as each Friday and Saturday. Or only after work days, etc.

Stage 3. Problem Drinking

It refers to anyone who begins to experience the impacts of their overconsumption, such as feeling depressed, anxious, and losing sleep. Problems like legal trouble, DUIs, forgetfulness, mood shifts, etc., can start at this stage.

Stage 4. Alcohol Dependence

Here, a person has developed a need for the substance. Alcohol has taken over the daily routine. It also means the person has developed a tolerance for the substance, and it now takes more substance to achieve the desired feeling. The individual may have tried to stop but can’t.

Stage 5. Addiction and Alcoholism

At this point, the person no longer wishes to drink for pleasure. It is a physical and psychological need; one needs to drink. There are cravings and even physical pain. No matter the circumstances, they need a shot.

Dealing with a Person’s Alcohol Misuse

In dealing with a person’s alcohol misuse, one will discover that the stages above will parallel the scale of denial. If you understand the effects of alcohol use, you will be in a better position to address the issue. Recognize that when the situation becomes physically damaging, it is best to seek advice from a Medical Detox professional. Stopping alcohol use from large quantities or extended consumption can be life-threatening.

In all cases, addressing alcohol use at any stage is to talk about it with someone who has knowledge and experience. You can find such a person with public resources and private treatment facilities. One can also contact a substance abuse referral counsellor who can help answer questions and guide to available resources.

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Marc Berard

Referral Counsellor, Author & Case Manager