Alcoholism can be passed down from family members; it can also come from being a part of one’s culture. It can not only cause birth defects, but can also create psychological issues in children and follow them into their adult years. Social distance, anxiety, and emotional suppression are examples of what some adults are left with after their childhood along with carrying along the line of alcohol consumption. Alcohol is readily available and is not illegal, only monitored, and therefore support and education are the most important means we have of battling alcoholism.
This can be accomplished by providing proper education in school starting from early on in elementary school, as well as up into high school and college level education. Providing more information about not just drunk driving, but also the psychological effects and damage alcohol causes will also be highly beneficial in combating alcoholism. Alcoholism: The Effects of Alcohol and Alcoholism on Abusers and their Loved Ones Alcoholism, according to the Mayo Clinic (201 2), can be defined as: A chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking. Ins preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. However, this definition leaves one very important effect of the disease completely unaddressed. It fails to mention how largely alcoholism affects the people associated with the person suffering from the disease.
While this may not be a part of what defines alcoholism as a disease, it does define the life of the alcoholic, whose relationships are strained and even sometimes completely severed due to their inability to overcome this disease. Alcoholism can cause abusive relationships, psychological scars, and shattered lives. The key to battling alcoholism is awareness and education about the disease. We need to redefine “alcoholism” by not only the effect it has on the alcoholic, but also those around them. So often, and I think I may safely say too often, we hear of tragedy striking due to the abuse and misuse of alcohol.
Whether it be a drunk driving accident, an alcohol driven domestic dispute gone wrong, or a case of alcohol singsong resulting in death, all of these tragedies could have been avoided. Yet, as we learn more and more about what alcohol is capable of doing, we are also seeing statistics regarding alcohol related deaths rising and rising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011 there we 26,654 alcohol related deaths in the United States. This number includes homicide, suicide, disease, and automotive related deaths.
This is a horrifying statistic, and should awaken fears in all of us. Imagine that you or one of your loved ones become part of that statistic. Doesn’t that thought rive you to become more informed? Imagine how many of those deaths were caused by alcoholics, or even the death of an alcoholic, who just became to secure in their ways and took their addiction too far. They got behind the wheel of a car and didn’t know take into consideration the lives they were putting at risk? Or an alcoholic who took a gun and used it against someone, or even themselves? Where does the cost become too much?
We have to inform ourselves and young people of what they are risking by taking that last drink to push them over the edge, and what a slippery slope that may lead to. Every day in this country, children are abused by the people they are supposed to trust most: their parents or caregivers. And far too often that abuse is fueled by alcohol. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In the LASS, 35% Of offenders Of parental child abuse had consumed either alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident’ (2006). We live in a society that glorifies alcohol.
We see commercials for it daily, but what if we started treating alcohol like we do cigarettes? What if we started turning the tables on alcohol companies, and highlighting these facts for the public? What if, instead of showing a group of beautiful, young people having a good time, we decided to show the faces of young boys and girls who have had a run in with an angry, drunken parent? Do you think that would change the way that the world sees alcohol? It would most certainly start a conversation, and that’s all it really takes to begin raising awareness, and this is certainly a cause worth raising awareness for.
After reading those statistics on alcohol related abuse, we need to clear up some misconceptions about the true nature of child abuse. Child abuse is not fined by the bruises, cigarette/cigar burns, and welts on a child’s skin, although that is a horrifying sight. The abuse goes even deeper, creating emotional scars that often carry with the child for years to come, if not their entire life. Abuse is known to commonly result in depression, anxiety, abusive, self-destructive, and simply reckless behavior, and that does not even scratch the surface of the damage that abuse can cause in the years to come.
On top of that, many children/young adults never receive the help they need to attempt to overcome these psychological scars, and many become alcoholics as well, leaving a long legacy of pain and destruction in their wake. It is like a spreading epidemic, with no foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel. Without taking the proper steps to fix this enormous problem, we are simply perpetuating this monster. Another incredibly harmful side-effect of alcohol consumption, and subsequently alcoholism, is the damage it can do to a child during its duration in its mother’s womb.
While many mothers-to-be will abstain from alcohol consumption for the duration of their pregnancy, alcoholic mothers are far sees likely to do so, and therefore put their unborn child at risk for many deformities, and suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FAST. FAST include the more commonly known FAST, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but the term also covers a variety of other disorders, such as Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (PASS), Alcohol Related Nonrepresentational Disorder (RAND), and Neurologically Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND- PEA) (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [NOVAS], 2007).
Each of these disorders has a lasting impact on the victim, and could have been voided, if only a mother had taken the time to seek help for her alcoholism. One of the most important things about alcoholism that we must start educating the public about is the causes. Very few people are aware of the risk that alcohol poses to them individually, and do not properly understand the things that factor into the likelihood of their becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism has been found to have roots in genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors (Mayo, 2012).
Very often you will hear people saying, “alcoholism runs in my family’, and yet you will also notice that they do not let his hinder them from drinking, even heavily, even though it seems that they are completely aware that there is some sort of genetic correlation between alcoholism and their own genes. Statistics show that roughly half of the known cases of alcoholism can be linked to a genetic cause, and the remainder can be linked to a psychological, social, or environmental cause (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [MANIA]).
That is a shocking statistic, and an exposure to this statistic may be quite affective, if we inform young men and women of their statistical probability to become alcoholics due to heredity. While our televisions may be bombarded with commercials warning of the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as testing and driving, we are also assaulted with flashy commercials dancing in our faces telling us that if we drink this drink or that drink we will be like these beautiful people having a wonderful time, and that is what we want.
Right? But what if that isn’t the answer? We need to stand up and say that persuasive advertising that makes drinking look like a road to glamour, not a road to destruction as it so often is, is deceptive and uninformative. We need to start flashing commercials across the screens advertising the plethora of negative effects that alcohol has on the mind and body, instead of clamoring it. And a simple message saying “drink responsibly/’ does not make these advertisements suitable for public television.
It just isn’t that easy to erase the reckless message that these commercials send. We need to see more AAAS for Alcoholism, that inform people about Fasts, child abuses cases related to alcohol abuse, genetic links to alcoholism, and the death toll that alcohol has racked up in the past ten years. Maybe then people would become more aware of the disease that alcoholism really is, and stop clamoring binge drinking.
The amount of information that we have to offer young people to better educate them about the effects of alcohol and the responsible use of it should be enough to persuade them to drink responsibly, but we do not live in a perfect world, and cannot count on the good conscience of every young man and woman in this country to steer them in the right direction. While this may not deter all young people from using and abusing alcohol, anyone who is better informed and therefore hoses to abstain from the use of alcohol is worth the fight to better educate these young people.
Redefining alcoholism is an incredibly difficult thing to do, because it encompasses so many different parts of the alcoholic’s life, and leaves in its wake victims and broken families. If someone had been there when these men and women were in high school, or even elementary school up to college level education, to teach them about the true effect of alcohol, maybe a child would go unbeaten, or a baby unsecured by FAST or RAND. Maybe the world would be a very different place, with many more people vying on to create wonderful lives for themselves, because alcohol never scarred their life.