Statistics of Alcoholics

The individual who has become an alcoholic has developed a physical dependence on alcohol.  This means that they have increased their tolerance level for the substance and they experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit or reduce their intake.  An alcoholic is obsessed with alcohol and cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work and financially.  According to The World Health (WHO), there are at least 140 million alcoholics in the world.  The United States study estimated about 30% of Americans report having an alcohol disorder at some time in their lives.

An alcoholic is usually in denial and will focus onto any differences, no matter how slight, as proof that he or she is not an alcoholic. This is why it is important to find the similarities and to not focus on the differences. An alcoholic depends on exclusionary stereotypes.  People who are undiagnosed and untreated alcoholics are quick to use these stereotypes to exclude themselves from being an alcoholic as more and more drinking behaviors are made unacceptable in society. Therefore, it is very important to know the signs and/or symptoms of an alcoholic:

  •  Drinking alone.
  •  Drinking in secret.
  •  Not being able to limit how much alcohol is consumed.
  •  Blacking out or not being able to remember chunks of time.
  •  Having rituals and being irritated/annoyed when these rituals are disturbed or commented on. This could be drinks before/during/after meals, or after work.
  •  Dropping hobbies and activities the person used to enjoy or losing interest in them.
  •  Feeling an urge to drink.
  •  Feeling irritable when drinking times approach. This feeling is more intense if the alcohol is not available, or    there appears to be a chance it may not be available.
  •  Having stashes of alcohol in unlikely places.
  •  Gulping drinks down in order to get drunk and then feel good.
  •  Having relationship problems (triggered by drinking).
  •  Having problems with the law (caused by drinking).
  •  Having work problems (caused by drinking, or drinking as root cause).
  •  Having money problems (caused by drinking).
  •  Requiring a larger quantity of alcohol to feel its effect.
  •  Nausea, sweating, or even shaking when not drinking.

There are several common myths and misconceptions that are brought to mind when thinking about or stereotyping alcoholics.  The majority of these stereotypes make negative assumptions about their lifestyles.    For example, people who abuse alcohol are typically deviants and don’t engage in society like the rest of the population and they have different values to society and are sometimes unemployed.  Some believe they must come from bad upbringings.  Others think they may be high school drop outs and/or prostitutes.   Society often feels alcoholics may even rob innocent people and that they dress poorly and have bad hygiene.  An employer may believe that an alcoholic employee is untrustworthy and fire them from their job.  A police officer may discriminate and feel that an alcoholic could be involved in a theft to buy his alcohol.  Alcoholics will usually deny their problem and hide it from others for fear of being discriminated against.  They will feel the shame associated with a stereotype and can be weakened by the constant negative assumptions and therefore may not risk getting help as then there secret will be known.

The reality of alcoholic abusers is that they are parents, children, friends, work mates, sisters and brothers.  They hold down jobs, they go to social functions and enjoy their weekends.  An alcoholic may be rich or poor, young or old.  Stereotyping substance abusers can lead to many difficulties in recognizing and helping these people.

The key to reducing discrimination and removing these stereotypes is awareness of the behaviors and to educate themselves and others and seek factual, realistic and positive truths.  With patience and understanding, a person who suffers from alcohol can get help and change.  They will not be scared to ask for help for fear of discrimination.  Despite the overwhelming odds placed against them, alcoholics can emerge from the depths of despair and lead productive, healthy lives.

It is important to remember that no matter how good of a person you are, or how wonderful your life may appear, you could still be an alcoholic.   If you are wondering about what other signs may indicate alcoholism, or if you could be a binge drinker, take our assessment here.