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Alcohol Abuse: What It Means


Depending on who you ask, you will get a variety of answers as to what alcohol addiction and abuse mean. But, essentially, alcohol abuse is the misuse of alcohol to the extent that it has a negative effect on a person’s everyday life.

What Does Alcohol Abuse Look Like?

Many people have an image in mind when we say someone is an alcoholic; an image of someone who is always drunk, slurring their speech, dirty, and unkempt. But in most cases, this is far from the truth. Somebody struggling with an alcohol problem may look perfectly normal to most of society. It is only behind closed doors that their alcohol problem might become apparent.

With the consumption of alcohol and even binge drinking, so much a part of modern society, it is much easier today for someone with an alcohol problem to go unnoticed. This may often mean the affected individual continues to suffer for a long time before anyone realises he or she needs help.

How Can You Tell Someone Is Abusing Alcohol?

Even though things may look okay on the outside, there will be tell-tale signs that someone is struggling with alcohol abuse. An individual who is regularly drinking heavily will inevitably begin to find the day to day tasks we all need to carry out increasingly difficult. Signs that someone is struggling to manage their alcohol consumption could include a deterioration in personal hygiene as the person stops taking care of themselves. They may be struggling to pay bills, or the mortgage or rent, as too much money is being spent on alcohol.

If you are concerned about a work colleague, you may be noticing that they are taking more days off, or working from home more, than they used to, and their work may be beginning to suffer from others having to cover for them or complete extra work. Personal relationships may be suffering, perhaps because of secrecy around drinking, or because of their behaviour when they drink. Their health may also be suffering, particularly if their drinking has gone on for some time, and they may have unexplained injuries from accidents after drinking.

Why Do People Abuse Alcohol?

The reasons behind alcohol abuse are complex and vary enormously from one person to the next. Studies have shown that there may be some genetic factors involved in alcohol addiction, so someone who has/had a parent who suffered from alcohol abuse may be more likely to suffer also. Knowing this can, however, make some individuals more cautious regarding their use of alcohol.

For many people who succumb to alcohol abuse, there was some sort of traumatic event in their lives that acted as a trigger. The consumption of alcohol is used to either try and block out the memories of the event, or to try to cope with the feelings engendered by the trauma. Traumatic events that could act as a trigger for alcohol abuse could include abuse in childhood, physical, verbal, or sexual abuse from a partner, bullying – either during childhood or as an adult – stressful situations in either personal or work life, bereavement, relationship problems, and many other possible scenarios that are upsetting or stressful. Any of these events could lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, or depression, and could result in the person concerned turning to alcohol as a means of trying to cope.

How Can I Help Someone Struggling with Alcohol Abuse?

If you think someone you care about is struggling with alcohol abuse, then, of course, you will want to help them. This can be a difficult situation to manage though, and it must be handled carefully and sensitively.

Initially, you may want to talk to other close friends to see if they have any concerns too. If others have similar concerns, then it is more likely that your concerns are right. You may then want to consider arranging an intervention to speak to the person and explain that you are all worried about him of her. This is not an easy thing to do, and may not be taken very well by your loved one, so things must be carefully planned so as to be non-confrontational. Think very carefully about how you word your concerns, and you may wish to involve a professional with experience of alcohol intervention to help.

You might also want to obtain information on the help that is available for those suffering from alcohol abuse. When, or if, your loved one realises that he or she has a problem, then getting the right help for them as soon as possible offers the best chance of recovery.

Where Can I Get More Information on Help with Alcohol Abuse?

Addiction Helpline provides free and confidential advice on the treatments available for anyone struggling with alcohol abuse. We can offer information on the treatment methods and can help you to decide on what sort of treatment would be most suitable for you, so please contact us today.

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