Alcohol dependency: When social drinking becomes a problem
Alcohol dependency is a common and complex issue that develops for a number of reasons. Each addict has their own reasons for drinking and different circumstances under which they may have developed the problem.
Alcohol dependency has a multitude of social implications, but the health related issues are some of the worst with pregnancy drinking becoming an ever increasing social issue.
The problem with drinking starts when the line between acceptable consumption is crossed and people enter into unacceptable territory, such as drinking more than the daily recommended limit each day, binge drinking every day, morning drinking, neglecting other activities in favour of drinking, lying about your drinking habits etc. Daily drinking most often starts out as occasional, social drinking and develops into an addiction.
Because the majority of problem drinkers start out as social drinkers, the social festive season we are in at the moment can be a concern. Over the festive season parties abound and bring with them many opportunities to enjoy a drink socially. But these can gradually lead to an addiction. ‘
While there are a number of people whose lives are quite obviously destroyed by alcohol, the most worrying are those addicts who slip under the radar. They appear to have it all together, but in reality they have a problem, which deteriorates over time and can have devastating consequences for them, their families and community. These are the people that often do not show any signs that they need treatment but are in fact damaging their health, irreversibly sometimes and destroying their lives. Excessive consumption of alcohol could be weakening the body without the drinker’s knowledge. Most cases of liver disease are attributed to alcohol and because the liver has no pain fibres, it is too late to combat once it has been discovered.
Drinkers, family members of drinkers and RSA staff should look out for the subtle signs of an alcoholic. Many years of frequent heavy drinking, rather than binge drinking, can lead to a gradual addiction which people often overlook.
This is what an expert from Kings College in London had to say about the phenomenon in a post on the BBC’s website, www.bbc.co.uk:
Dr John Marsden, an alcohol and drug dependency expert from King’s College London, says a typical functioning alcoholic can manage to hold down a job despite having a “very severe drinking problem that they have been incubating over a very long period”.
“Alcohol problems are difficult to understand because they do not occur overnight. They are hidden from view which makes functioning alcoholics a group we cannot easily help.”
Rob C, who is 61, was one of them. At his worst he was drinking 1.5 litres of straight vodka per day.
“Then I began to suffer blackouts, losing whole days and not remembering anything.”
He would be first to arrive at work, which made him able to set out his “drinks for the day with what looked like a bottle of mineral water”.
“I would hide bottles around the office. You think nobody else knows, that it doesn’t smell, that you’re getting away with it. But of course they did notice.”