6 Reasons to Sober Up: How Your Drinking Problem Affects Your Life

Do You Have a Deceitful Drinking Problem?

drinking problem - pint of beerVery often, one of the first excuses that someone with a drinking problem will use in order to avoid stopping their behavior is that their drinking hasn’t caused any real problems in their life. If they haven’t lost their job or received a DUI/drink-driving charge for example, they may be able to tell themselves that they have their problem under control – that quitting alcohol isn’t really necessary. The fact of the matter is, however, that binge drinking and other types of alcohol abuse can actually have quite a negative impact on a person without them seeing the damage it causes until it’s too late.

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Read on for some of the more insidious ways that alcohol can affect your life before you even realize it.

1. Your Body

Most people are aware that too much alcohol can have a seriously detrimental effect on the liver, causing alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, which is fatal in some cases. What they don’t know is that in reality, alcohol takes its toll on every organ in the body, including the heart and the brain. Alcoholism puts you at an increased risk for strokes, dementia, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease, and as if that weren’t enough, it also raises the chances that you’ll contract cancer of the mouth, liver, esophagus and larynx, which can destroy your ability to speak without specialized equipment. Unpleasant and potentially deadly gastrointestinal disorders like pancreatitis and gastritis are also more likely to be found in those who drink heavily.

2. Your Mind

Those who have a drinking problem will also generally face a slew of mental health issues as well. While these problems may precede the alcoholic behavior, binge drinking as a method to self-medicate oneself will usually only serve to add to their difficulties. Alcoholics are much more susceptible to anxiety and depression, and they are at a higher risk of committing suicide than those who abstain from drinking. These problems will very often accumulate, with one leading to, or feeding on, the others and creating a cycle that can easily spiral out of control.

3. Your Family

The impact that alcoholism has on families is tough to measure, due to the fact that the negative implications can actually last for decades and run through a number of generations. Domestic violence is one of the most obvious and devastating results of binge drinking, causing physical and emotional damage to not only the spouse and children of the alcoholic, but to the drinker as well. Obviously, they are at risk of losing their family altogether, but even if they do manage to avoid that, they may face jail time, court-imposed treatment, job loss and social stigmatization if their crimes are discovered. Even worse, the physiological damage to the children of alcoholics may impact their own parenting capabilities down the road, since they will often carry on the negative traditions of their upbringing. People who are raised by alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholics as adults and they are also more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol as teenagers and young adults. They often feel guilty for their parent’s drinking problem and associate it with some type of failure on their part as a child. Children of alcoholics are also at an increased risk of developing their own sets of emotional or psychiatric issues similar to that of their parents, including anxiety and clinical depression.

4. Your Finances

It doesn’t necessarily have to take losing their job for excessive drinking to have a negative effect on a drinker’s bank account. If their missed days at work exceed the amount of sick days or vacation time that they have accrued, their paycheck will quickly begin to suffer as a result. Even if they are showing up for work on a regular basis, most heavy drinkers will lose at least some of their production capabilities, which can stunt pay-raises and performance-based bonuses, as well as their chances of getting a promotion or a higher-paying job. Aside from all of this, it’s important to remember that alcohol is not free and if the habit is taking them to the bar or liquor store on a regular basis, the literal cost of all of that booze will inevitably start to add up. Simply tallying up the amount of money that they are spending on alcohol in a given day, week or month can provide quite an ugly surprise for many alcoholics.

5. Your Friends

While many people who drink claim that they do it in order to be more sociable, the sad reality is that their behavior will often actually wind up having an isolating effect on them after awhile.  Because they are more likely to cause fights, become insulting or engage in other obnoxious behavior while they are drunk, many of those in their social circle will begin to withdraw from them over time, which can trigger depression and other mental health problems previously mentioned. Alcoholics may start to find that they are invited to parties and other social events less often and retreat into drinking as a temporary solution, once again setting themselves up for a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

6. Your Life

Alcoholics are much more likely to be involved in accidents than the general population as well. While there is, with good reason, a societal focus on the dangers of driving a vehicle while intoxicated, this is by no means the only risk that heavy drinkers face. They also fall down more often, are more likely to drown by accident and suffer more frequent burns due to their poor judgment when they are drinking. Guns present yet another opportunity for danger when combined with alcohol, for not only the drinker, but innocent family members, friends and bystanders as well.

There is no question that quitting a drinking problem can be a tough road, but when faced with the prospect of losing their family, friends, livelihood and even life, many drinkers can and will find the resolve to get the help that they need in order to stop.

Next Step:

Read my own battle, how I overcame it, and suggested resources.