Alchohol abuse and alcoholism revisited

In preparation of this article I was watching television, viewing all of the commercials advertising ethyl alcohol beverages; beer, wine, and distilled spirits.

I was taken back to the 1950s when it was illegal to advertise alcohol beverage, but the advertisement of tobacco products were continuously advertised. Now it is all reversed, tobacco is no longer permitted to be advertised, and the ethyl alcohol beverages are. It is a significant reminder of our cultural changes that have taken place over the years.

The majority of our populous choose to drink ethyl alcohol beverage, and the majority of those that do drink responsibly. Alcohol is a part and parcel of our everyday life; drinking at Pechanga’s and other get-togethers, at sporting events, and other events taking place. Wine is being consumed at meals as it has always been customary to do so, and people continue to have “that cool one” after work.

Yes my friends, we know that the consumption of ethanol is engrained in our society.

Yet the abuse of alcohol and the disease of alcoholism continue to be a scourge on our world societies…quite paradoxical when considering it, since time in memoriam.

Latest statistics (2015) from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAA), tell us that 86.4 percent of the U.S. population report drinking alcohol.

Of that number, 15.1 million adults had an Alcohol Use Disorder; and an estimated 623,000 of adolescents had an Alcohol Use Disorder.

Statistics further relate that 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

In Texas, when one considers alcohol related deaths on our highways, almost 1,000 persons are killed each year in crashes where the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

Yearly Alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicide were at 30,000 in the U.S. In addition, the consumption of Alcohol continues also to be a leading contributor to crime; homicides, robberies, etc.

Of further note, and one that I have been following for many years, is the statistics on youth and alcohol consumption; 33.1% of 15-year-olds reported that they have had a least 1 drink in their lives, and about7.7 million youth ages 12-20 reported drinking in the past month.

These statistics have held about the same over many years.

But the abuse of alcohol can also lead to addiction…as much as 10 percent of those who choose to consume alcohol will develop the disease of Alcoholism.

Alcoholism is the physiological and psychological addiction to ethyl alcohol; or to put it in the best definition, and to quote the renowned pioneer in the treatment of Alcoholism, Father Joseph Martin; “The person takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, and the drink takes the person,” and “the alcoholic is a person who cannot, not drink.”

Those statements are the epitome of alcoholism in a nutshell, and I need not go further in defining alcoholism in this article.

Sub-diseases and other conditions relative to Alcoholism run a gamut; Cirrhosis of the liver (deaths from alcohol related liver diseases account for over 20,000 per year), pancreatitis, renal conditions, coronary problems, sexual dysfunction, etc., are often contributed to alcoholism. Many “unseen” familial problems are also contributed to alcoholism; marital discord and divorce, child abuse and neglect (more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems), etc.

In addition, the use and abuse of alcohol, and alcoholism, costs our country billions of dollars per year.

Of major hindrance to the identification and treatment of persons with alcoholism, and their families, is the continued denial of alcoholism as a disease by many people. I have dealt with thousands of alcoholics, their families, and the general populous over almost 5 decades; and I still hear, “alcoholism is a choice,” they just “need to stop drinking on their own,” etc. To which I always reply, “taking the first drink, or to continue to drink with associated problems is a choice;” “but when one becomes addicted to the substance he/she has forfeited the choice…the substance makes the choice at the cellular level.”

If a person has an Alcohol Use Disorder, are alcoholic, they rarely ever can stop drinking without help (which is also very unwise and dangerous to attempt to “dry out” on their own, as alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening). Even in this day and age, and despite all of the awareness education and literature on the subject, there are still those who are not aware…have not internalized that alcoholism is a disease.

This subject is addressed in our school systems, and needs to be addressed continually in our communities; and, most specifically in our families. Due to the constant holding true about the numbers of youth who use alcohol, the subject has always begged the question, “are we really making a difference through our educational efforts of preventing alcohol use and abuse among youth, or are we just re-enforcing the attitudes of those youth who choose not to drink in the first place?”

If you or a family member, or friend, is experiencing problems associated with alcohol; help is readily available. The Tropical Texas Behavioral Health Center offers services free of charge through their Outreach Screening and Referral Services Department (OSAR). They can be reached at 1-800-813-1233; or drop in to the clinic located at 103 N. Loop 499, in Harlingen.

For those individuals in need of detoxification or residential services, Tropical has contractual agreements; The Palms Center in Harlingen for Detoxification, and Charlie’s Place in Corpus Christi should residential treatment be prescribed.

Other referral services will be coordinated as needed. Want to learn more about Tropical Texas Behavioral Health Center? Visit their web site at www.ttbh.org. Have a Great week ahead, and Stay Healthy My Friends!