Over 15 million people in the United States suffer from alcohol addiction, and there may be even more who are closet drinkers, able to hide their alcoholism from their friends and family until it causes social difficulties or health problems.
Alcoholism is an incredibly difficult addiction to break, especially as alcohol is readily available in nearly every store. Unlike illicit drugs, which must be bought surreptitiously, or cigarettes, whose health problems are well-known and which are being slowly phased out of many stores, alcohol is a socially acceptable intoxicant, making it even harder to stay away from once you realize you have a problem.
It’s easy to dismiss alcoholism as another unhealthy behavior, one on the same level as not going for a walk every day or scrolling TikTok for too long, but it has severe long-term impacts on your health and overall emotional well-being. Today, we’ll investigate some of the most crucial reasons you need to work hard with therapists, support groups like AA, and an alcohol addiction treatment to break your dependence on alcohol forever.
Alcohol Damages Your Liver, One of the Most Important Organs in the Body
While not as glamorous as the brain or heart, your liver is just as important for your health: it performs an enormous amount of functions, from producing bile for fat digestion to filtering blood and removing toxins. Given its function as a detoxifying agent, this vital organ is especially susceptible to alcohol, which kills liver cells and can create scar tissue.
The Mayo Clinic outlines some of the most serious consequences of alcoholism, which include fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. While fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis can be treated depending on the severity, cirrhosis is irreversible – and difficult to detect without extensive bloodwork.
It can eventually lead to liver failure, which can only be treated through a liver transplant. Unfortunately, alcoholics are often ineligible for liver transplants unless they can completely abstain from alcohol, making it all the more important that you quit if you show any liver damage symptoms.
Alcoholism Can Cause Employment Difficulties and Even Homelessness
If you’re a problem drinker, you likely know already that alcoholism makes it difficult to keep your life on track, especially in regard to employment. You may have a string of callouts, particularly on Mondays, due to excessive drinking on the weekend. Addiction can also impact your ability to concentrate and perform well at work, as you’ll be anxious and irritable, waiting for your next opportunity to drink.
Should you be found drinking on the job – particularly if you are tasked with operating machinery or working with vulnerable individuals like children – it’s more than likely that you will be fired, and any professional licenses you hold will be revoked.
Employment, particularly in America, is closely tied to housing: there are few social safety nets that let those struggling financially remain housed. As such, it’s not surprising that 50% of homeless individuals suffer from at least one addiction. While it’s not clear from research whether drinking was directly responsible for homelessness in all these cases or whether these individuals turned to alcohol for comfort due to the difficulty of living on the streets, there is a strong correlation between alcoholism and serious financial consequences.
Your Drinking May Damage Your Closest Relationships
Just as it’s difficult to be a good employee when struggling with alcoholism, it is also difficult to be a good child, parent, friend, or spouse. Privileging liquor over people causes estrangement from your children; you can’t be fully present when inebriated, which can lead to resentment and mental health issues in your child. Similarly, it’s hard to be a good caretaker for older parents or a loving partner when you regularly disconnect from the world through alcohol.
All of us have people we love in life, and we want to be there for them: to share their joys, to comfort them when they’re unhappy, and to help them be their best selves. Unfortunately, alcohol can rob you of the opportunity to support those you care about most through their own struggles, as your mind is preoccupied with riding the rollercoaster of addiction.
Fortunately, There Is Plenty of Help Available
The hardest part of getting treatment is acknowledging that you have a problem: once you’ve accepted that you’re in need of support, you’ll find a whole world of opportunities to break your reliance on alcohol and live a full, healthy life. Licensed counselors, addiction professionals, and even a loving support system can make a huge difference in your success.
Addiction is hard to beat, but it’s not impossible; you, your family, and your community deserve the best version of you. If you find you’re facing consequences due to problem drinking, recognize that there’s nothing shameful about seeking treatment: you’re not alone, as many other people have faced their addiction and beaten it. With plenty of guidance, you, too, can become successful in sobriety and ready to enjoy all the world has to offer.