The stereotypical alcoholic is someone who drinks all day long and prefers to drink cheap spirits from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. He or she will be unable to hold down a job and will be estranged from loved ones. This person will be dirty and unkempt and will often be verbally or physically aggressive when drunk.
If you do not meet the above profile, then you may understandably believe that you couldn’t possibly have an alcohol addiction. After all, you don’t drink spirits and you do not drink as soon as you wake up. Moreover, you still have a job that you go to every day. So, you cannot be an alcoholic, right?
The reality is that while there are some individuals who fit the profile of the stereotypical alcoholic, most do not. So, just who is affected by alcohol addiction then? Is it those who come from deprived backgrounds only? Or is it only people who are down on their luck and considered to have no prospects?
The question of who is affected by alcohol addiction is one that commonly arises, especially among those who have convinced themselves that they cannot have a problem due to not fitting the profile of an alcoholic.
The truth is that absolutely anyone who drinks alcohol can develop a problem. Despite being a legal and widely available substance, alcohol is actually a toxic and highly addictive substance and one that causes many problems.
Anyone who drinks it is capable of allowing their use of alcohol to spiral out of control, but most of those who do develop a problem are reluctant to admit it.
What you should know, however, is that many alcoholics are what are known as ‘high-functioning’ addicts. And the profile of the high-functioning addict is quite different. For example, he or she might:
From the outside looking in, these individuals would never be classed as alcoholics. All the same though, they have lost control of their drinking and it is having a negative impact on their day-to-day lives.
Most people have an opinion of what alcoholism is. When they think of those affected, they will usually think of the stereotypical alcoholic rather than the high-functioning one. This causes many problems in society and it often prevents those who need help from reaching out for it.
For example, because of stereotyping, high-functioning alcoholics will rarely believe they have a problem as they are just not fitting the perceived profile. Family and friends can also be fooled into thinking that a loved one does not really have a problem that requires help because he or she is still working and still taking care of him or herself.
Those that do realise they have a problem will be reluctant to seek help because they know that the opinions of others will change towards them when these others realise there is a problem afoot. In a nutshell, with so much stigma attached to addiction, many affected individuals are ashamed to ask for help due to a fear of being judged by others.
It is hard to imagine what life is like for those with an alcohol problem unless you have direct experience of the problem. Those who live with an alcoholic will be aware of how devastating this illness can be as it encroaches on their lives too.
Alcohol addiction that is left untreated will simply progress, and while many people may be high-functioning alcoholics in the early days, with time, the ability to function well will diminish. As alcohol begins to take over more of a person’s life, there will be little time for anything else.
Family members will notice the changes in his or her behaviour while work colleagues may notice a slip in performance levels or a growing number of absent days. Without treatment, the problem will only get worse.
Alcohol addiction does not go away if you ignore it; no matter how much you hope that this will be the case. What is much more likely is that your current situation will slowly but surely get worse. As you continue to abuse alcohol, your health will begin to suffer. You will have a higher risk of developing long-term problems such as heart, liver, and kidney disease and your risk of having a stroke or heart attack will also increase.
Your home and work life will suffer too. As your need for alcohol grows, you will lose interest in those around you and you will care little about responsibilities at home and at work. As your performance levels in work drop or you begin missing days, you might find that your ability to earn an income suffers too, leaving you and your family members in a precarious financial situation, particularly if you are the main provider.
Although you might never have considered yourself an alcoholic, the reality is that alcoholism typically develops gradually. Indeed, many people do not even realise that they have crossed a line from social drinking to problem drinking. It is usually only when they try to cut back or quit that they comprehend that something is not right. At this point, he or she might experience strong urges to drink and feel quite unwell when the effects of the alcohol wear off and when their body is crying out for more.
If you have found that your need for alcohol is something that you are struggling to resist and that you are drinking more now than you used to, it is time to take action. The good news is that help is available for addiction and you do not have to struggle alone.
If you have developed a physical dependence on alcohol, you may need to complete a detox to break the cycle of abuse. This is then followed by a programme of rehabilitation that will help you to regain control of your life and get to the root of your problem.
As part of our service, we offer assessments to determine the severity of your addiction and the type of treatment programme that will work best for you. We work with providers in the private and public sectors, so if you are ready to get started on a programme of recovery, we can put you in touch with a suitable provider as soon as possible.