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Why Is Alcohol Addiction Bad for People and the Economy?


The issue of alcohol addiction is a very complex one. This is often due to the fact that this is a legal substance that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It can be tough for some to comprehend that alcohol can actually be quite dangerous as well as highly addictive. For those who drink it in moderation, the negative side effects of alcohol are rarely felt. It may be that these individuals occasionally drink too much and suffer a hangover the next morning, but their consumption of alcohol does not reach the point where it takes over their life and causes devastating consequences. So why is alcohol addiction bad and who is affected by it?

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

The UK Government recommends that adults drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol per week. These guidelines are considered ‘safe’ consumption levels, although some experts have claimed that there is actually no safe level of alcohol consumption in terms of preventing various illnesses, including cancer.

However, those who want to reduce their risk of illness and addiction should stick to the guidelines. It is important that some days of the week be kept alcohol-free and that the fourteen units be spread out over a number of days, rather than consumed all at once.

Despite these warnings, there are still many in the UK who regularly drink well above these guideline amounts. Some people have reported drinking up to fifty units of alcohol every week. Excessive alcohol consumption can be extremely dangerous. It can lead to poor health as well as a crippling addiction with a number of negative consequences for both the individual and their family members.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?

Not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction and not everyone who abuses it will become alcoholics either. Nevertheless, there are several factors that make it more likely for some individuals to be affected and these include family history of addiction, traumatic experiences, early exposure to alcohol, and mental health problems.

For most, alcohol addiction is an illness that occurs gradually. It is not something that suddenly occurs overnight. Regular alcohol abuse can lead to an increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol, which can cause the person to drink more in order to achieve the desired effects.

Continued abuse of alcohol can result in changes to the brain. The structure will be altered and the person may no longer be able to make good decisions. When these changes occur, the individual will be unable to resist alcohol and will continue to drink even though he or she is fully aware that doing so will result in negative consequences.

Who Is Affected by Alcohol Addiction

As previously mentioned, not everyone who abuses alcohol will go on to develop a crippling addiction. There is no exact cause of alcoholism, so it is impossible to tell who will and who will not be affected. Nonetheless, after years of research and studies, scientists have discovered that certain risk factors increase a person’s likelihood of becoming alcoholics.

One of the main risk factors is family history of addiction or genetics. Those with a biological parent who suffered with alcoholism are more likely to be affected themselves in later life. It may be the case that the individual has specific genes for alcoholism, but it is also likely that their experiences have activated these genes.

Another risk factor for alcoholism is traumatic experiences. There is a direct link between substance abuse and trauma. Those who have been the victim of domestic violence, any type of abuse, or those who have lost a parent or been bullied are more likely to self-medicate with alcohol than those who have not.

Early exposure to alcohol can also increase a person’s risk for alcoholism. Indeed, studies have found that the majority of alcoholics had their first drink before the age of eighteen.

The Negative Consequences of Alcoholism

Alcoholism does not just affect the drinker, despite what many people believe. Although there are many negative side effects for the alcoholic, the effects are further reaching than that. Alcoholism can result in problems for the loved ones of the alcoholic too and can also affect entire communities as well as the economy.

In terms of the negative consequences for the individual, there are many. Poor health is probably the biggest one. As well as many physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, alcohol addiction can also have a major impact on the person’s mental health. Chronic depression, anxiety, and even dementia can all be linked to alcohol abuse.

Those who do not seek help for alcoholism could also be risking premature death. Many of the health problems that occur because of alcohol abuse can be fatal; in fact, alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of premature death in the UK.

Health problems are par for the course for those who abuse alcohol but there are other areas of life that will also be negatively affected; relationships with others inevitably suffer. It is not possible to abuse alcohol without it changing actions and behaviour.

As the individual becomes more and more obsessed with alcohol, he or she will begin to neglect other areas of life. This will include responsibilities at home and at work, as well as people. It is harder for the alcoholic to function without alcohol, which can mean they act in a bizarre or unpredictable manner. This can take its toll on loved ones as well as work colleagues.

Family members and friends often find it hard to cope when a loved one is affected by alcoholism. Living with a person who is obsessed with alcohol can be stressful and upsetting. Spouses, parents, children, and siblings will all suffer and it will have a devastating impact on their own lives. Some family members will become what is known as co-dependent, where they will begin to live their own life around the actions and needs of the addict. They may rationalise the affected person’s behaviour or make excuses for them because they believe this is helping. What it is actually doing is enabling them to continue with their addictive behaviour.

It must be mentioned here that the effects of alcohol are not limited to the individual and the people closest to them. In fact, almost every single person in the country is affected by addiction, without even realising. This is because this illness places a massive strain on vital services such as the National Health Service and the police.

Addiction costs the economy billions of pounds every single year, and this is something that the taxpayer is contributing towards. As well as the cost of treating alcohol-related illnesses and injuries, there is a cost involved in policing and prosecuting alcohol-related crimes. It is known that over half of all violent crimes are committed by someone under the influence of chemical substances such as alcohol or drugs. With this in mind, it is easy to see why alcohol addiction is bad for people and bad for the economy.

Can Alcohol Addiction be Treated?

There is no way to detect if a person has an alcohol addiction with a blood test or physical examination. What must happen is that the individual’s drinking habits are evaluated as well as the impact that their drinking is having on daily life.

It is usual for loved ones to realise that alcohol addiction is a problem long before the alcoholic does. This is often because the alcoholic genuinely cannot see the seriousness of his or her situation. Sometimes it is because the individual just does not want to admit the truth for fear of what the next steps will be.

The good news, however, is that there are many treatments available for those with alcohol addiction. For most, this starts with an alcohol detox, which should typically take place in a supervised facility where they are monitored throughout the process.

During an alcohol detox, the individual will stop drinking and will wait until all remaining chemicals are expelled from the body. As the body tries to heal itself and get back to normal, various withdrawal symptoms will occur. These can be quite mild, but some individuals will experience more severe symptoms, some of which could be life-threatening if not treated immediately. With a supervised detox though, many of these severe symptoms can be prevented with medication or nutritional supplements.

Once detox has been completed, the individual will be ready to move on to tackling the psychological issues of the illness that actually caused the addiction in the first place.

Alcohol Rehab Options

The psychological issues of addiction are generally dealt with during rehabilitation. Rehab programmes are offered on an outpatient or inpatient basis from a variety of providers here in the UK. These include, the NHS, local support groups, charities, and private clinics.

The choice of treatment provider usually depends on the needs of the individual as well as his or her particular circumstances. Most people would assume that the best place to go for treatment would be the NHS, but the problem with this type of care is that there tends to be long waiting lists. Addiction services provided by the NHS are limited and the demand is far greater than the supply.

The alternative for most is a private clinic where an intensive and concentrated inpatient treatment programme can be made available within one to two days after the first inquiry. For most affected people, inpatient treatment programmes offer the best approach to alcohol addiction recovery. This is because this type of programme forces the individual to tackle the illness without having to worry about other everyday issues that might otherwise get in the way.

If you would like to find out more about why is alcohol addiction bad, or else help with a rehabilitation programme for yourself or a loved one, contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We work with various providers and will ensure that whatever your circumstances, you can get the help you need to overcome your addiction once and for all.

We have a team of professional advisors on standby, waiting to hear from you. They are friendly and professional and will instantly put you at ease. They will listen to what you have to say and will discuss the various options available to you. If you want to move forward with a goal of long-term sobriety in mind, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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