Alcohol awareness – that’s what this month is all about. Our society is one that still takes great pleasure in drinking alcohol. A glass or two of wine is seen as romantic when on a date. Beer is viewed as the drink for the hard-working individual. Hard drinks soothe people after a long or stressful day. Some people couldn’t imagine a party or a backyard project without drinks. We drink at sporting events, social events, vacations, and just hanging out with friends. No wonder alcohol abuse has become such a big problem, and alcoholism devastates more lives than we can count.
Maybe this month we need to start at the beginning. Even if there were no more alcoholics with a physical dependence on the substance, there would still be a need for awareness. Many people abuse alcohol without being addicted, and we are often under the impression that if someone isn’t addicted, then their drinking is not harmful. However, alcohol abuse is just as harmful as alcoholism.
Ways Alcohol Abuse Occurs
Alcohol abuse can happen in many different ways. College students and teenagers often find fun in binge drinking, or drinking underage. Drinking parties, complete with beer games or funny bongs, are commonplace on college campuses. Dangers in this kind of drinking include alcohol toxicity and death, reckless behavior leading to accidental injury, and building up a tolerance to high levels of alcohol.
Drunk driving is another example of alcohol abuse. People who go out to the bar or a party, have a lot of drinks, then feel they should get behind the wheel and drive home, are abusing alcohol.
Alcohol abuse can occur when someone chooses to drink alcohol in a place or setting where it is not allowed, such as public events, school, or work. Alcohol abuse also occurs when a pregnant woman drinks and causes damage to her developing baby. Any time someone becomes impaired, lacks judgment, or causes harm to themselves or others because of their drinking, they are abusing alcohol.
Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcoholism
Alcoholics and alcohol abusers can experience the same negative consequences because of their drinking. The difference is that alcoholics are physically dependent on the substance, and their bodies go through serious and even deadly symptoms when taken off of it.
We do have a lot to learn about alcohol. There are times when alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused. But we like to deny our problems and that’s one reason alcohol abuse is dangerous. It is sometimes viewed as cool or alright to abuse alcohol, but all too quickly it can become a disease that is out of our control. Those that continue to abuse alcohol may be setting themselves up to become addicted later in life. Through education and training, we can help more people see the dangers of alcohol abuse, and the risk of alcoholism that goes along with it.