Alcohol is the most widely abused drug. Approximately 10% of the U.S. population has an alcohol problem, and nearly all people with an alcohol issue are employed and have a family. Signs of alcohol abuse include drinking to relax, having blackouts or forgetting what happened while drinking and increased alcohol use. Those who abuse alcohol may not as responsible at home or at work as they once were. They may also have legal issues such as DWIs. Financial stress can increase due to job loss and money spent on drinking. Alcohol problems affect job performance, creating absenteeism, tardiness and decreased performance. Alcoholics may experience tolerance, which is when a person has to drink more to get the same effect.
If you think you may have a problem with alcohol, there is a four-question test called the CAGE.
“C” = Have you tried to cut down?
“A” = Have family or friends been annoyed by your drinking?
“G” = Do you feel guilty about drinking?
“E” = Do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
If you have two “yes” responses, you may be an alcoholic.
Factors that increase the risk of alcohol problems include genetics, child abuse, trauma and having another psychiatric condition such as depression or anxiety. It is common for those with another psychiatric diagnosis to attempt to self-medicate themselves with alcohol.
The effects of alcohol abuse on the family can be serious and long lasting. In families with alcohol issues, there are higher rates of domestic violence and child abuse. Children of alcoholics are more likely to have low self-esteem, school problems and may be embarrassed to bring friends home. Spouses of alcoholics can be become “over-responsible” and feel angry or resentful. Many times the spouse is in denial and covers up for the person with the alcohol problem, referred to as enabling. When enabling takes place, the person with the alcohol issue does not suffer consequences.
The good news is that alcoholics can change their lives by getting help. Many people benefit greatly from chemical dependency treatment. To get help, call BJC EAP at 314.747.7490 or toll-free 888.505.6444.