Alcohol Abuse and Early Intervention
Most people, and certainly most smart people, avoid looking too closely at their alcohol use. Frequently that’s a good idea, at the minimum in the short run. Unhappily, over the long haul this can rule to problems, both real and mythical, that early and productive awareness might have helped avoid. The problem here is the mythology – not alcohol itself.
Most of us have been mislead into believing that the misuse, or over use, of alcohol is a progressive and irreversible condition leading – a terminal “disease” for which there is only demeaning and unending recovery, a condition many understandably consider worse than being a drunk. This situation is further muddied by most “assessments” which only serve to justify one-size-fits-all treatment that almost never includes either moderation or real recovery as options – despite the research and what we all know from experience: people make all sorts of changes with regard to their alcohol use just as they do with smoking, weight loss, and many other nagging problems.
What’s a person to do? First, consider the following alcohol use categories: healthy, abusive, dependent, and addicted, and decide where you fit:
Healthy alcohol consumption has been found to be approximately two drinks of distilled spirits, two bottles of beer, or one half bottle of wine per day for an adult man, and half that for an adult women. These amounts confer the most health benefits without any associated detrimental effects. clearly, not everyone consumes these set amounts, nor do most people who drink necessarily always stop at one or two. Certain social settings may find one consuming more over the duration of an event, for example, but the average should keep within the recommended parameters.
Alcohol abuse is defined as consumption which consistently exceeds the recommended levels and/or is done in isolation instead of socially. Generally these two symptoms will occur in unison but either is sufficient to cause concern. Frequent contributing factors include loneliness, exhaustion, and a paucity of peers or activities. At this stage, remediation is shared enough to be the norm, with a return to healthy use the usual outcome. Counseling may expedite the time of action and help with the inner causes.
Alcohol dependence occurs after long periods of excessive use leading to social, physical, and emotional dependence. Drinking becomes a dominant coping mechanism across multiple categories; for example, socially, recreationally, vocationally, and spiritually. Symptoms may include physical withdrawal following cessation, depression, increased isolation, meaningful weight gain, decreased liver function, and possible legal, financial, and/or employment problems. As multiple problems need attention, counseling can help with the reorganization, prioritization, and methodic accomplishment of necessary changes.
While a return to moderate or healthy use is normal, a period of abstinence, possibly one to two years, is recommended. Many people who do this never return to drinking at all, having successfully alternation their lives in other and more satisfactory ways.
Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, results when a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological being is permeated by alcohol and its consumption. definite withdrawal symptoms – physical (i.e. tremors, seizures) and psychological ones (i.e. blackouts) – are present and alcohol related disintegration in several areas of life (i.e. financial, legal, vocational, marital, as a hobby, social, medical) is present. While approximately a third of diagnosed alcoholics return to moderate drinking, this is not generally recommended.
At this stage both medical and counseling help is usually necessary given the physical, social, emotional, and psychological aspects. Recovery prospects are uncertain at best and outcomes vary. As always, motivation and a belief in personal efficacy, as opposed to “powerlessness,” are the dominant factors in success.
Please remember that the three problem categories are all amenable to fixing without labels, meetings, or lifelong stigma. Alcohol abuse and dependence are particularly correctable back to healthy moderate consumption levels, and more than 58% of U.S. adults with alcohol addiction (alcoholism) that began more than one year ago were able to moderate their use by a year later (according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
If you have concerns about your own situation, or that of a loved one or friend, look for help where options exist, not where a single “program” is inflicted on everyone in spite of of their condition. You wouldn’t accept a single treatment for every stage and kind of a real disease like cancer, don’t be fooled into accepting one for a non-disease like alcohol abuse.
In the U.S. resources can be found for moderation at http://www.moderation.org, for non-pathology based therapy at: http://www.goodtherapy.org, and for Harm Reduction at: http://www.hamsnetwork.org