Nearhoof: Alcohol makes for “unsteady” lives, families and much more
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Do you have a friend who always seems to have a drink in his or her hand? Or a flask in his or her bag? We all know someone who likes to drink, and we all know someone who likes to drink a little bit too much. But do you know how to tell the difference between casual drinking and when it can become a problem?
Alcoholism is a disease that affects 17.6 million people in the United States, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Alcoholism describes the condition where a person becomes so dependent on alcohol that he thinks he cannot function without it.
In some ways, we can think of alcoholism as a genetic disease. Numerous scientific studies reveal that alcohol-dependence runs in families. Anxiety and stress are common causes of alcoholism. Those who suffer feel as though drinking alcohol helps them live their lives, when, actually, it can only hinder them.
I know exactly how alcohol can hurt families. My father is an alcoholic and has been my entire life. I have known about it ever since I can remember. His drinking wasn’t something he tried to hide from me, my mom or anyone else.
Growing up, I used to go on fun little trips with him every Saturday. We would recycle bottles at the local grocery store, buy several two-liters of Mountain Dew and a fifth of vodka. I would always get a Lunchable and a lime Bug Juice while we were out.
A few years ago, my mom told me a story. When I was about three years old, my mom and I were shopping in Walmart for my dad’s birthday. She asked me what I wanted to get him as a gift, and I walked right up to the bottles of vodka and pointed to them. Children are perceptive. I knew even then what my dad’s favorite pastime was: drinking.
In 2015, X Ambassadors released their hit song “Unsteady.” If you haven’t seen the music video, take a break from reading and go watch it. As the song progresses, we see the man’s alcoholism grow from it being fun to drink while young to something that is very not funny as responsible adults.
We watch as the parallels in their relationship drastically change. The video shows man and woman on their first date compared to a morning breakfast in their home as husband and wife. The man sneaks alcohol into his coffee while the woman smiles and nods, thinking it’s edgy and fun. When he does the same action as the husband, with their young child sitting at the table, his wife no longer smiles and nods.
My mother had the same relationship with my father. When they first started dating, she thought that the alcohol he was consuming was a fun social pastime. As they aged, she stopped drinking as much and he started drinking more heavily. He transitioned from beer to hard liquor a few years after I was born. His parents died, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and the drinking progressively worsened. I watched as the drinking tore our family up and thought about how it can affect someone’s entire life.
Maybe this is the reason that I don’t drink alcohol. I’ve seen the worst parts of alcohol, and I don’t want to be a part of it. Maybe I don’t drink because I am a control freak or just because I hate the smell of alcohol. I’ve become so used to seeing it in a negative way that even drinking casually is something I can’t bring myself to do.
Just remember that alcohol can have very serious effects on your health and your life. According to Alcohol Rehab Guide, a website that raises awareness for alcohol abuse and alcoholism, there are often common warning signs you can look for in someone who might be abusing alcohol, including:
—Being unable to control alcohol consumption
—Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
—Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
—Feeling the need to keep drinking more
—Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
—Behaving differently after drinking.
If you or anyone you know is at risk of alcohol addiction, there is help. You are not alone.
The University of Toledo Counseling Center can be a great resource for students struggling with addiction. Stop by their office in Rocket Hall or call to set up an appointment with a counselor. In addition, Alcoholics Anonymous of Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan has meetings every day of the week in different area locations. Visit its website at http://www.toledoaa.com/ to find out more.
If you are a child of alcoholism or have a relative struggling with addiction, there are groups you can go to for support. Find out more about their meetings at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
There is no problem with going out with your friends, drinking and having a good time. You are allowed to be a young adult and to make mistakes. But you need to be aware of the dangerous problems that can come with it. You may not think that you are in trouble until it is too late.
Rachel Nearhoof is a 5th year Individualized Studies major. She is the IC’s associate director of photography, webmaster and social media coordinator.