Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are associated with a broad range of medical, psychiatric, social, legal, occupational, economic, and family problems. Brett Roth M.D. and Joachim Gruber, M.D., explain that “Parental alcoholism underlies many family problems such as divorce, spouse abuse, child abuse and neglect, welfare dependence, and criminal behaviors, according to government sources and of course.”
The great majority of alcoholics go unrecognized by physicians and health care professionals. This is largely because of the alcoholic’s ability to conceal the amount and frequency of drinking, denial of problems caused by or made worse by drinking, the gradual onset of the disease, and the body’s ability to adapt to increasing alcohol amounts.
Family members often deny or minimize alcohol problems and unwittingly contribute to the continuation of alcoholism by well-meaning behaviors such as shielding the alcoholic from adverse consequences of drinking or taking over family or economic responsibilities. Often the drinking behavior is concealed from loved ones and health care providers.
Alcoholics, when confronted, will often deny excess consumption of alcohol. Alcoholism is a diverse disease and is often influenced by the alcoholic’s personality as well as by other factors. Therefore, signs and symptoms often vary from person to person. There are, however, certain behaviors and signs that indicate someone may have a problem with alcohol. These behaviors and signs include insomnia, frequent falls, bruises of different ages, blackouts, chronic depression, anxiety, irritability, tardiness or absence at work or school, loss of employment, divorce or separation, financial difficulties, frequent intoxicated appearance or behavior, weight loss, or frequent automobile collisions.
Joachin Gruber, M.D., tells us that “Alcoholism is best treated by professionals trained in addiction medicine. Physicians and other health care workers are best suited to manage alcohol withdrawal and the medical disorders associated with alcoholism.
In fact, home therapy without supervision by a trained professional may be life threatening because of complications from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Usually an alcoholic will experience alcohol withdrawal 6-8 hours after cutting down or stopping alcohol consumption.
Several levels of care are available to treat alcoholism. Medically managed hospital-based detoxification and rehabilitation programs are used for more severe cases of dependence that occur with medical and psychiatric complications. Medically monitored detoxification and rehabilitation programs are used for people who are dependent on alcohol and who do not require more closely supervised medical care. The purpose of detoxification is to safely withdraw the alcoholic from alcohol and to help him or her enter a treatment program. The purpose of a rehabilitation program is to help the alcoholic accept the disease, begin to develop skills for sober living, and get enrolled in ongoing treatment and self-help programs. Most detoxification programs last just a few days. Most medically managed or monitored rehabilitation programs last less than 2 weeks.
Many spouses of alcoholics will tell you that living with them can be unbearable at times. You will find that many of the stories that spouses of alcoholics share are entirely similar, due to the symptoms of alcoholism. Many spouses are abused mentally and physically when their spouse is under the influence of alcohol and they will tell you that they walk on egg shells, most of the time. Very often, the alcoholic cannot perform well at his job, from lack of sleep and from craving alcohol. Alcoholics will sometimes go to work under the influence, which leaves their spouse worried that their income will suffer because of it. Spouses of alcoholics also have a full-time job seeing that their mate makes it to their jobs on time, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or end up in jail because of their intolerant behavior.
Alcoholics will often argue that their alcoholism has no direct effect on their spouse, but it is extremely common that the spouse will suffer, without any help from their mate. Depression is very common with these spouses, who feel like they are alone, and their spouse’s alcoholism will continuously destroy their lives. Living with an alcoholic is like falling into an endless pit of misery that never ends, until the alcoholic agrees to seek help.
Alcoholism is a disease that effects both husband and wife and needs to be addressed as soon as the problem is identified. Dennis Wholey offers a good look at alcoholism and offers advice. This book is titled, (Wholey, 1998) “The Courage To Change.” Genita Petralli also gives help for alcoholics and their spouses in the book, (Petralli, 2007) “Alternative Approaches To End Alcoholism”.
Al-Anon. (2007). “How Will Al-Anon Help Me?”. Welcome To Al-Anon.
Gruber, Joachim; Roth Brett. (2007). “Alcoholism”. Emergency Care: Consumer Health.
Petralli, Genita. (2007). “Alternative Approaches to End Alcohol Abuse.
Wholey, Dennis. (1988). “The Courage To Change”. Warner Books.