Many times when people hear the word addiction they tend to think about drugs or maybe to a lesser extent cigarettes, however one of the most common and horrible addictions is alcoholism. I attribute this lack of common knowledge to the fact that many people who have this addiction do a very good job at hiding it. Unlike illicit drugs alcohol is not hard to find, you simply have to walk into a liquor store or even a gas station. Because of this, addicts can hide themselves from the public; they can buy what they need for the week without being noticed and drink it alone inside their homes. Although there are many causes for someone to be an alcoholic, I believe it is the effects that are most frightening. Excessive drinking affects you in many ways such as your mental and physical health, as well as the relationships you have with your friends and family. Alcoholism affects the user’s physical health in many ways. Some effects are short term such as, “slurred speech, drowsiness and vomiting.” ("ALCOHOL -SHORT- & LONG-TERM EFFECTS") Even though these effects are not that horrible, one must remember that they happen to alcoholics on a daily basis. When they wake the next up morning or afternoon, they will experience the effects over and over again. Sadly, there are many more short term effects that alcoholics have to deal with including, “headaches, breathing difficulties, distorted vision and hearing, decreased perception and coordination, and even blackouts.” ("ALCOHOL -SHORT- & LONG-TERM EFFECTS") Even though that may seem like a lot of short terms affects the list could be much longer. When someone is considered an alcoholic it often means they have been drinking excessively for an extended period of time, unfortunately the long term effects of drinking are quite grim. Excessive drinking can have many long term effects like, “high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and a increased risk for throat and mouth cancer.” ("ALCOHOL -SHORT- & LONG-TERM EFFECTS") As you may have noticed, each and everyone one of these effects can kill you, and in combination with each other they become even more deadly. What makes these symptoms scary is the fact that they usually cause the alcoholic to suffer. Other than a serious stroke or heart attack, the user could suffer for months or even years. There are also many physical effects when an alcoholic tries to quit drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can be quite extreme and some of them can also be deadly, “the most serious withdrawal syndrome is ‘delirium tremens’, which develops in about five percent of people with alcohol withdrawal (more if fits are not treated) and by definition includes the syndrome of delirium (and altered and confused state of mind) … this syndrome has a death rate of around five percent.” ("Mental Health") Essentially this syndrome will kill you with extreme seizures or extreme dehydration.
Although the physical effects of alcoholism are very horrible, people tend to underestimate the mental effects that alcoholics have to deal with. Alcohol is the most widely known depressant on the market today. A depressant slows down your body’s functions, hence some of the short term effects such as slurred speech and drowsiness, however it also has an effect on the mind. When you are on a depressant you will literally more prone to becoming sad and if you take them over a long period of time you can even become clinically depressed. Because of this, “ for people who drink heavily, alcohol commonly causes mood disorders, including depression.” ("Mental Health") Many people find it much easier to deal with physical pain rather than mental, which makes disorders such as depression that much scarier. Sometimes it is hard to figure out if someone is depressed, let alone treating it. This is because, unlike a broken bone where a doctor can see and treat the problem, with depression and other mental illnesses only the affected person can truly understand what they are feeling. Since alcohol is a depressant, “it is often found in the blood of people who self-harm, or attempt or complete suicide.” ("Mental Health") Besides depression, alcoholism can also cause “anxiety and psychosis (a mental illness defined by changes in personality, a distorted sense of reality, and delusions).” ("Mental Health") As you can see, the mental effects of alcoholism are quite horrific and sometimes even fatal.
Lastly, the worst effect of alcoholism is the one that many don’t know about or understand. What I am speaking of is the effect alcoholism has on a family. I personally have experienced what having an alcoholic can do to a family. Unfortunately, ever since I can remember my father has always had a problem with drinking. It was very hard living with an alcoholic father; nothing was really normal or easy. Because of his drinking as I grew older I had to become more of a baby sitter than a son. He was always throwing up, falling down, or breaking something. Besides that, the mental abuse he laid upon my sister, mother, and I was very hard to deal with. It caused my mother to drink more than she should, my sister to move 1800 miles south to Orlando, and me to become quite depressed. Sadly my depression was not uncommon, “children of alcoholic parents have shown greater rates of hyperactivity and conduct disorder ; substance abuse, delinquency, and cognitive dysfunctioning; social inadequacy, and anxiety and depression.” (Williams, and Corrigan 406). I may not have been consuming a depressant, but I was definitely feeling just as depressed and as my father. I also suffered from another common issue children of alcoholics have, “problems include dysfunctional coping styles like inappropriate emotional expression, dependency, or manipulation.” (Williams, and Corrigan 406). Although my coping mechanisms have improved, for the longest I could not “deal” with the slightest bit of adversity, I would just become silent and go to my room if I got upset. Thankfully, now that I have been away from that situation for almost two years, I do feel a lot better. I believe this is the worst effect because it hurts the most people, although the alcoholic may be suffering they never truly understand how their drinking affects others.
There are so many possible ways for one to develop a alcohol dependency that it is very hard for one to decipher the true cause of alcoholism. As Ducci states, “although it is clearly known that genetic factors play a role in alcoholism, identiﬁcation of the speciﬁc genes involved has proved challenging.” Besides genetics there are still a few common reasons for a person to become an alcoholic. One of the most common things is going through a traumatic event. This is because trauma causes us to cope, and unfortunately some people do not know how to cope well. As stated above, if you also have genetics working against you as well it is definitely going to be an uphill battle to avoid dependency. With all these possible causes, one can start to understand why alcoholism is such a huge problem in the world today.
When it comes to the effects of alcoholism, the list could go on for days. Each addiction is unique, but at the same time all alcoholics have their similarities as well. Because alcohol abuse does nothing but harm to the body it can have some pretty horrible physical effects and over a long period of time can even lead to the user’s death. While you may be able to see the physical effects of alcoholism, the mental effects are grim as well. Alcohol abuse can cause severe depression, which can even lead to suicide in some cases. Those effects may sound awful, but I still fully believe that the worst effect of all is the effect alcoholism has on a family.