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The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism and How to Seek Help

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Seeking help recovery can be a challenging thing for someone who is trying to live a sober life. For some it is a life changing experience that they cannot seem to grasp and often struggle with. Addiction can become so bad that an individual in a blink of an eye can become a completely different person than what they were a minute ago. Alcoholic addiction is a very serious thing and although it is becoming a more common addiction in today’s day and age, awareness and self-help groups are increasing to ensure that other do not have to go through the things that a current recovering alcoholic person experienced. This paper will be supported by the help of textbook readings that will explain more about alcohol and the substance problems that come with it and how treatment is affected by this. Other sources will include eight required readings that will connect ideas and support the issues with alcoholic consumptions and how medical approaches deal and identifying the problems. To continue the sources, two lectures will be included as well as the film that was used for the film report and the interview report. Each source will help understand the importance of alcohol and the danger that comes in drinking and possible causes that would affect someone to start abusing the substance.

The subtopic will be about alcohol and addiction. Hart and Ksir describe that the term alcohol came from an Arabic word meaning “finely divided spirit” and originally referred to that part of the wine collected through distillation-the essence, or “spirit” of wine (187). When alcohol was first discovered, it was used for studying the effects of treatment in certain medical case conditions. However, throughout the years it became more of a common pleasure that people would drink for social occasions or be used to help relax the mind after a long day of work. One fact about alcohol is that it is not just a liquid that you would call vodka. Hart and Ksir explained that drinks such as beer, wine, scotch and other components of those types of drinks are considered alcoholic beverages and have a significant effect upon individuals who drink too much of it on a daily basis (188-190). Even the smallest amount of alcohol levels found in a drink can be dangerous, but with the precautions of knowing one’s limit, they are able to tell when they had enough whereas alcoholics do not see that and continue to drink.

From the following information that now makes us aware about alcohol being dangerous when consumed too much than what the recommended consumption should be, it is speculated often time that it could be a psychological disorder in someone who can drink a lot but not feel the effects of the behaviors after drinking. In an interview that I had will a fellow acquaintance, he stated that “alcoholism is mental illness” (Parrell, 2015). When going more into depth about his perception as to why he considered it to be a mental disorder he began to explain that an alcoholic does not know when to stop; when they are sober they know they need to be in control at all times and cannot allow themselves to fall back into unhealthy patterns. Therefore, if an alcoholic were to drink even one sip of a beverage, they lose instant control and instead of saying “I’m in control” the alcohol changes their perception to “you’re fine, you can handle one more drink” (Parrell, 2015). The possibility that a psychological disorder could one of the cause factors for drinking, is something that many researchers and psychologists are still trying to identify today. Although there are theories that support the idea that one of the causes for alcoholism is a psychological disorder, there have been cases where a certain trauma in an individual’s life draws them towards alcohol. An example of a traumatic event in history was the Ojibwa of Grassy Narrows experienced large amounts of mercury water spilling in the waters that they use and river system having to shut down. Due to the toxins in the water, fishes and other sources of foods were infected by the poison causing many illnesses and deaths to occur in the community. Therefore, due to such events, speculations arose after about 35% of the population were dying within a three month span causing a crisis and creating a drinking spree that hit Grassy Narrows “like a tornado” (Kai, 29). A high number of reasons behind alcoholic addiction is a big part of psychological dysfunction. Whether a mental disorder, a trauma that was too much for an individual to handle the situation, these small matters can lead to serious consequences for an individual later down the line should they use alcohol as a relief source.

Moreover, with alcoholic addiction being a mental disorder, in the case of a crime occurring while one is intoxicated is something that is being brought up more and more in today’s society for more violent crimes are occurring and prosecutors are trying to figure out how plead defendants for their actions. A man by the name of David Musto who was an American expert on U.S. drug policy and the War on Drugs who served as a government adviser, wrote “The American Disease” and he described how the concept of “deviance” as a category, created by the majority in society to describe certain minorities on criteria perhaps unrelated to “justice”, made perception of unusual or atypical behavior more realistic (237). Thus meaning, should a crime be made with a person who is involved with intoxication of alcohol, depending on their history cases if convicted or previously held against the possession of certain substances or crimes, that in some cases they would not be charged for the crimes they committed. Musto explained how this has been an ongoing thing since the 1960’s and how in 1962, the Supreme Court’s addiction to be a disease and not a crime (237). Furthermore, some cases for individuals up on trials for crimes they have committed are often given ultimatums such as having to go to a facility under court orders to become sober.

Getting into a program that will help a person live a sober clean life can cause a lot of anxiety for an individual who feels that they are not yet ready to life a lifestyle like that. While there are so many programs that are beneficial and help individuals with their addiction problems, one of the most effective programs that are commonly well known for helping is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). A M.D. and Ph.D. professor of medicine by the name of Miriam Rodin, explains the process of how programs like these work better and why it helps more individuals out with recovery than other programs that they might enlist in or join. Rodin enlightens us that the methods behind AA programs are meant to help individuals feel that they are in a safe place and welcomed. Upon entering the meeting, a chairman convenes the meeting by first welcoming everyone and introducing themselves. Once then the chairmen will do a few readings and often prayers. They then will start introducing each speaker and allow them to discuss their stories and to ensure that the speaker does not feel judged, the chairmen beforehand makes the environment as friendly and love warming ahead of time as they say things that makes everyone in the room comfortable (43-45). Hart and Ksir believe that AA is now being seen as a “milestone in treatment (412). Alcoholics have an anonymity that they keep to themselves and do not share it with others for that anonymity is a big portion of their identity. However, in AA programs that anonymity is broken to spread their awareness in the danger that comes with alcoholic addiction. A twelve step program designed to help the individual to slowly start living a sober life. Hart and Ksir support the perception that the alcohol-dependent person is seen as having the responsibility for managing the disease on a day-to-day basis but need not feel guilty about being different (412). Although a person in AA have sponsors they need to start teaching themselves to be dependent towards them because no one else can help them but their own being.

The most key components in self-help groups is the individual wanting to receive help. An alcoholic is a victim to themselves as they are their own greatest enemies. Joseph Gusfield, a historical sociologist and leader in transforming the study of alcohol use in the United States, explored how moral issues were socially constructed and determined that one factor of alcoholic abuse is the enemy drinker. He said “the demand for laws to limit alcoholic consumption appears to arise from situations in which the drinkers possess power as a definitive social and political group and, in their validity of abstinence norms” (180). Thus, indicating that if a person does not agree with something, they are going to rebel. In lecture there was a discussion about Universe of norms and how political, religious, self-organized and biologically grounded norms were all contributions amongst individuals. For example it was explained the difference between a social control agent and a deviant. Social control agents were apart of society such as law enforcement, federal constitution and other systems that people are a part of; deviants would be criminals, addicts, homeless people, terrorists and so on (Maida, 2015). If an individual does not feel a part of society or is consistently judged by society, they will lead to a substance that they feel they connect well with and in an alcoholic’s case, alcohol is their solution, alcohol is their pleasure.

Although there are self-help groups out there that help individuals live a sober life, there are others who do not want to seek help and continue to drink alcohol under their pleasure. The danger in that is when a person drinks too much alcohol it can really affect their body biologically and in many cases those bodies end up in the hospital if they are not dead. In class, it was discussed about campaign against stigma II: the health encounter and the sick role. In this lecture, we had learned that individuals should know their role and to not be sick and if they were to get sick, to seek help from physicians (Maida, 2015). Clinicians have the power of authority as they have the knowledge, experience and skills enable to help out someone who is sick and be able to give them a diagnosis and treatment. This type of power however, depending on the patient, not everyone wants to receive help from a clinician because some might not be from the country and therefore, lacks knowledge and have an uncertainty of what they are being told by the doctor especially if the language the doctor is speaking is not their primary language. Also, the big issue that so many are avoiding hospitals in general as well is their insurance company (Maida, 2015). We learned that insurances are the big reasons why we either go to the hospitals or don’t, for the reason being that we do not know how much everything is going to cost. Someone who continuously drinks a lot can develop serious health issues and they could be looking at thousands of dollars for medical trips if they do not control how much they drink or seeking help to live a sober life. This insurance issue also intertwined with William White’s research, a senior research consultant as he looked into the rhetoric’s of addiction. White concluded that where private institutions such as insurance companies almost universally benefit from a very narrow definition of billable diagnoses, federal and state government bodies charged with funding addiction treatment have quite mixed interests (54). Insurance companies are making it difficult for those who are trying to live a sober life more of a challenge due to the fact that they have to pay for everything that they are doing in treatment.

If one were to be sent to an institution, whether through court orders or referred by a doctor, institutionalized treatment often never helps an alcoholic nor motivates them to live a clean life as they tend to feel more urges to drink while being hospitalized at one. Such facilities are known as mental institutions, jail also have a place for those struggling with addiction and even missionaries provide help in treatment. How a patient does in recovery will determine their level of sobriety; should one been seen as having progress although they would not be released right away, they do not need to be contained whereas those who refuse or fight are locked down. A Ph.D. of National Opinion Research Center, analyzed the routing dilemma in institutions and wanted an understanding of how patients reacted to the treatment. What was discovered was the different way an alcoholic is treated at each behavior setting that these approaches arose from an obvious differentiation in the drinkers’ characteristics and response to rehabilitation efforts; thus some drinkers might respond best to punishment, some need aid in drying out before they can break away from drinking, some need self-insight, while others thrive in an environment of strict rules and spiritual guidance (Wiseman, 53). Wiseman then concluded that each institution or facility is assigned to special areas where they would force patients to do things. She believed the things that the patients go through adds more fear and anxiety for them and that is why they rather escape the place and continue drinking than seeking help.

Not seeking help causes many social problems. In the film “The Basketball Diaries”, the main character and his friends were robbing residential areas and stealing money from strangers walking in the streets of New York. They were all a part of the social norms who respected the community, but after substance abuse and a lot of alcoholic consumptions the idea of threatening people and running away from their problems was normal and when in fact it was the complete opposite. Eventually, the characters became a social problem and were judged by many and looked down upon. The danger with alcohol, is that you destroy your tolerance level. Hart and Ksir refers tolerance to a phenomenon seen with many drugs, in which repeated exposure to the same dose of the drug results in a lesser effect (30). Alcoholics want to feel something when they drink or feel nothing; when they do this the add on drinks after drinks and the jeopardy they put themselves in is for example, they have eight drinks in one night, they might want the same amount the next night however after eight drinks they do not feel the pleasure so they add on more drinks in their system. Hart and Ksir also explain how a behavioral act is followed by a consequence, resulting in an increased tendency to repeat the behavioral act; the consequences may be described as pleasurable or as a “reward” (31). With that information known, it is one of the big struggles in sobriety. A recovering alcoholic continuously asks themselves what will now be their reward or pleasure after something has happened to them.

As this paper discusses, the addiction of alcoholism is very dangerous but the idea of that alcoholism is a common thing is what needs to be made aware. Although there are unequal balances between males and females drinking, males are more prone to drinking than women since men have to make on more social roles whereas women do not. A cultural historian, writer, educator, and public speaker named Lori Rotskoff focused her research on sober husbands and supportive wives and the thought process that comes with it and she enlisted that in a study she observed the term “alcoholic” implicitly meant “male alcoholics” (299). This means that alcoholic substance abuse in the 1940s and 1950s were something that only men struggled with and even if it’s now 2,015 men still have more of an addiction problem than women. Her research also intertwines with William White’s observations. Alcoholism is a disease that can affect anyone and yes although one gender is known for having more numbers of people to be an alcoholic, it does not declare or justify the danger that also comes with it. In conclusion, alcoholism is something that has been happening throughout the lifespan and will continue to happen. How it is approached and perceived as can hopefully help generations to come not have an outburst of alcoholic addiction whether caused by psychological aspects or biological features.

Three Unanswered Questions:

1. If institutions are handling the care of patients in an aggressive way to where they are being forced to do things, are these activities being reported and if not, how much of the public is awareness as to what these institutions are doing and why are the actions being allowed?

2. Regardless if a person commits a violent crime either where someone was killed or not, is it fair that prosecutors uses the excuse of someone having a mental disorder from the alcoholic abuse from not being sentenced?

3. If all health insurances were to offer programs that were paid fully for recovery programs, would there be a significant effect in recovering alcoholics, or is the problem health insurance the cause as to why someone does not want to seek help because of potential costs that come with it?

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The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism And How To Seek Help. (2018, May 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-causes-and-effects-of-alcohol-abuse/
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The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism And How To Seek Help. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-causes-and-effects-of-alcohol-abuse/> [Accessed 28 Nov. 2020].
The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism And How To Seek Help [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 18 [cited 2020 Nov 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-causes-and-effects-of-alcohol-abuse/
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