All over the world, the abuse of alcohol is something that leads, in one way or another, to some 2 million deaths. This can be directly due to the damage that alcohol does, or indirectly, for instance, during a drunk driving accident. People who abuse alcohol often lose more than just their health, they also lose their jobs, their loved ones, and, most of all, the joy of being alive.

Social Factors Contributing to Alcohol Abuse

What makes it very hard to stop people from abusing alcohol is that it is a socially accepted drug, and one that is readily and legally available. In the majority of countries on this planet, drinking is perfectly legal, albeit only from a certain age. Additionally, in most cultures, being drunk every once in a while is considered to be normal and perfectly acceptable. Some cultures even have certain events where being drunk is almost expected, such as at 21st birthday celebrations, college campus parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and sporting events. This is something that is mainly seen in Western cultures, including our own.

Because of the socially accepted nature of drinking alcohol, it is quite common for the signs and symptoms of an abuse problem to be completely overlooked. In fact, it may even be condoned. Often, it isn’t until damage becomes really obvious that people start to wonder whether there might be a problem there. Usually, it is the closest loved ones of the person who first start to notice the signs and symptoms, but it may take them a long time to raise this point, in part due to not wanting to alienate the person they care about.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

There are a number of signs and symptoms that often point to someone abusing alcohol. At that point, they may not yet be alcoholics, but they are starting to do damage to their bodies and, quite likely, to their social, professional, and educational relationships. Some of the signs and symptoms to look for are:

  • Noticing that drinking alcohol stops people from going to school or work, or taking part in activities, because they are sick or have a hangover
  • People drinking even though they know they will get behind a wheel later, be that of a car, boat, motorcycle, or any other type of vehicle that would be risky to operate when under the influence
  • Having blackouts or memory loss after drinking
  • Having injuries or accidents after drinking, either to themselves or to others
  • People continuing to drink even though they have a physical or psychological condition that they know will get worse if they drink alcohol

At the abuse stage, people are starting to damage their body, but they are not quite classed as an alcoholic yet. However, alcohol abuse is progressive and most people will become alcoholics unless help is offered beforehand. When the following signs and symptoms start to appear, there is reason to believe abuse is progressing, or has progressed, into alcoholism:

  • Not being able to control how much they drink, or when they drink
  • Needing to take increasingly high amounts of alcohol in order to still get a buzz or feel intoxicated.
  • Noting withdrawal symptoms whenever alcohol is not consumed, including anxiety, having shakes, being sweaty, and feeling sick
  • People no longer taking part in previously enjoyable activities, because they prefer to drink alcohol instead
  • Spending the majority of their time either consuming alcohol, or recovering from this
  • Social, educational, and professional relationships start to suffer visibly, but the person continues to drink regardless.
  • People starting to drink very early in the morning, remaining drunk for a very long time, or frequently drinking when alone
  • Trying to hide how much they drink and coming up with excuses
  • Consistently relying on alcohol in order to resolve problems or relieve stress
  • Clearly wanting to stop drinking, and even regularly trying to stop drinking, but being incapable of sustaining that for a longer period of time
  • Being focused almost solely on alcohol. They must always ensure that they have access to sufficient alcohol and will only attend social activities where drinking is expected.

Never Overlook a Sign of Potential Alcohol Abuse

It is all too easy to allow the signs and symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption to pass by, unnoticed. Unfortunately, once any of the above symptoms become apparent, then damage is being done. This can be to the person’s body and mind, but also to their relationships, and overall quality of life. Additionally, they may end up with legal problems as well. Essentially, when alcohol abuse is ignored, addiction is likely to follow at some point. Once people are no longer in control of their alcohol consumption, they are on a rapid downward spiral leading to incarceration, illness, destruction of family units, loss of jobs, and perhaps even death.

Alcohol-Related Deaths

Alcohol related deaths are more common in certain countries than in others. For instance, in Russia and some of the countries that used to make up the USSR, some 20% of male deaths can be directly attributed to alcohol consumption. In countries in areas such as Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and China, this drops to between 5% and 10%. The main way alcohol consumption is fatal, in men and women alike, is due to cirrhosis of the liver. The second way is through traffic accidents. Unfortunately, this includes intoxicated people causing the deaths of other people.

Those statistics are sobering if nothing else, and demonstrate how important it is that help is found for someone whose drinking is out of control. Alcoholism is a disease, but one that can be controlled by taking the right steps and having the right skills necessary for sober living. Help usually includes a combination of different things, including:

  • Counseling to help address the psychology behind the problem.
  • A nutritional program, as most people who are alcoholics no longer care about eating properly, leaving them with many nutritional deficiencies.
  • An exercise program to rebuild physical strength.

While recovering from alcohol abuse and alcoholism is difficult, it can be done with the right support.