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What Impact Does Alcohol Addiction Have on Our Lives


Most people in the UK drink alcohol within the government’s guidelines for safe drinking, which state that adults should drink no more than fourteen units per week. Sticking to these guidelines is considered low risk in terms of the development of health problems. However, it must be mentioned that there really is no safe level of alcohol when it comes to preventing certain illnesses. The only way to avoid alcohol-related mental and physical health issues is to abstain from alcohol completely.

Those who drink above and beyond the weekly allowance of fourteen units subsequently increase the risk of developing problems; their risk of addiction also increases as well. Regular alcohol consumption usually causes an increased tolerance to the effects of the substance. The solution to this for most individuals is to increase the amount of alcohol they drink. Doing this though tends to lead to a physical dependence, which is very often followed by addiction.

How alcohol addiction impacts the individual may well be one considered by many people at certain times, but at the same time many forget that it is an illness that can have far-reaching implications. Although there is no question in how alcohol addiction impacts the individual, how it affects others must also be considered.

Alcohol and the Individual

Those who have developed an alcohol addiction will usually suffer many negative consequences. In terms of health problems, there are hundreds linked to alcohol addiction. In the short term, these can include:

  • anaemia
  • weight gain
  • increased risk for diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • impaired judgement
  • drowsiness
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

Regular excessive consumption of alcohol over an extended period can have much more severe consequences to the health of the individual. Alcoholism is linked to problems such as liver disease, pancreatitis, nerve damage, stroke, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

However, how alcohol addiction impacts the individual does not stop with health problems. Having an alcohol addiction will mean that many areas of life will be negatively affected. While under the influence of alcohol, the risk of accidental injury will increase, and the affected individual might begin taking unnecessary risks. This could include, for example, driving under the influence or engaging in unprotected sex, both of which can have disastrous consequences for both the addict and others.

It is also important to think about how the behaviour of an alcoholic changes as the illness progresses. Alcohol affects judgement and thinking and makes behaviour very unpredictable. Relationships might suffer, particularly when there is aggression and/or violence while under the influence, which can so often happen.

Finances are another area negatively affected by alcoholism for the individual. Those with alcohol addiction find that they need to keep increasing the amount of alcohol being consumed to achieve the desired satisfaction. So the more they drink, for example, the more money will be needed to feed the habit. But the more they drink, the less likely they are to in a position to perform well at work. This can lead to financial problems for both themselves and their immediate family members.

How Alcohol Addiction Affects the Family

You may have heard alcoholism referred to as a family illness before, and this is because it can have a negative impact on the entire family unit. Like all other addictions, alcoholism does not just affect the individual.

It is a common misconception that alcoholics harm only themselves; in fact, most alcoholics are unable to see when their actions are affecting others. Many will act in an abusive or unfair manner, particularly towards those closest to them. Nevertheless, because they are unable to see things clearly or take an objective view of life, they do not understand the harm their actions are causing.

Those living with an alcoholic person will suffer immense stress. The chaotic behaviour of the person with the addiction can have a devastating impact on everyone else in the family unit, with children often suffering the most.

Children are often referred to as the forgotten victims of alcoholism. They suffer greatly, and many go on to develop deep and lasting emotional problems because of it. Younger kids especially find it difficult to understand why an adult’s behaviour has become so unpredictable. Many will blame themselves and then suffer a range of emotions because of it. These can include things such as:

  • loneliness
  • anger
  • fear
  • confusion
  • sadness

Older kids will know what is going on within the family unit and will be affected in different ways. They may feel shame or embarrassment about the fact that someone within their family has an addiction. This could then cause them to feel guilty about their emotions. It can end up being a deeply distressing time for an older child.

Many of these kids will end up becoming isolated and withdrawn and will avoid making friends in school to hide their secret. If a child is being neglected because of an alcoholic parent, it can mean they are going to school looking dirty or untidy, and this can often make them the target of bullies.

How Alcohol Addiction Affects the Wider Community

It is easy to see how alcohol addiction impacts the individual and the family, but most people do not appreciate the fact that alcoholism is an illness that affects us all. Alcoholism is costing the taxpayer billions of pounds every single year.

It is an illness that is intricately linked to poor health and violent crime. As such, there is the cost to the NHS, the policing service, and the CPS. Alcohol addiction often leads to accidental injuries for which treatment in hospital is required. Hospital treatment is also required for alcohol-related illnesses such as liver disease, heart disease, and cancer, all of which are entirely preventable.

With an estimated half of all violent crimes perpetrated by those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is easy to see how there is a link between alcohol addiction and crime. The victims of violent crimes caused by those under the influence of alcohol will usually require hospital treatment, and police resources will be taken up trying to find the people who commit these crimes.

With so much money and time spent on alcohol-related issues, it is clear to see how alcohol addiction affects everyone. It is the impact that it has that makes treatment of alcoholism so important.

What Is Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Like?

Overcoming alcoholism can be challenging, but it is possible. If you are affected by this destructive illness, you do not have to continue living this way. As you can see from the above paragraphs, alcohol addiction causes problems in the lives of many people, so treatment is especially important.

To get your life back on track, you will likely require a comprehensive recovery programme, which includes detox followed by rehabilitation. Detox will help you to break the cycle of abuse and is the process designed to help you overcome the physical element of your illness.

It usually lasts for a period of one to two weeks, during which time your brain and body will begin the healing process. You are likely to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms tend to be mild, moderate, or severe in how intense they are, but it is impossible to know which symptoms you will experience or how severe these will be before the process begins. Nonetheless, in a dedicated detox clinic, the symptoms can be effectively managed and treated to ease any discomfort that you may experience.

Once detox has been completed, you can start the process of rehabilitation, which will address the underlying psychological issues associated with the illness. Rehab is necessary in terms of helping you identify the reasons you became addicted in the first place. It will also help you to learn more about the ways in which you can avoid your triggers going forward so that you do not find yourself in the same position again at a later date.

If you would like more information on how alcohol addiction impacts the individual as well as others, please contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We can provide information on all types of addiction and can answer all your questions. We can also help you to find a suitable treatment provider, should you be ready to take the next steps on the road to recovery. Please call today to find out more about how we can help you.

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