The physical damage done by alcohol problems may be apparent right away or it may sneak up on you over a long period of time.
It may be very clear and very specific, with classic physical signs of ongoing drinking showing up on your face as in the case of the fellow to the left, or it may be much more hidden and socially accepted or condoned.
Effects on relationships are likely to be similar, . . . ranging from being blatantly obvious to not being at all easy to
pinpoint to exactly.
The passage of time may be mellowing. It may add some wisdom. It does not make problem drinking go away.
In fact, aging lowers the amount you can drink before you start being
at increased risk for all the related physical and emotional troubles
that go along with consuming alcohol to excess. It just adds to the physically and mentally damaging effects.
Sound familiar? Apparently it goes along with the slowing of metabolism that makes you gain weight as you get older, even when you keep eating exactly as you have been for years.
When someone experiences alcohol problems, the negative effects of drinking exert a toll, not only on the drinker, but also on their partner and other family members.
Sometimes it is something as seemingly harmless as the relationship between drinking in the evening and snoring.
The clearest demonstration of how drinking negatively impacts your family is the widely documented association between it and interpersonal violence, but there are others including:
And as you get older, add to that list
It is nearly impossible to untangle relationship problems when alcohol problems are involved.
First off, when you're dealing with a problem drinker, realize that you're trying to interact with a person who both experiences and presents different "selves".
self that is there when they are drinking can be very different from
the sober self or the really drunk self or the post-blowup remorseful
self. It's very tricky ground for everyone involved.
Also, in relationships you are no longer just dealing with a relationship between two people, (which is challenging enough to do well in the best of circumstances), but now there is a triangle but . . . It's not another man or woman in the third spot, it's alcohol!
The power of the drive to minimize and deny the severity or impact of drinking on yourself and on others is truly awesome.
If you drink alcohol regularly and are lucky enough and loved enough to have someone tell you that they think it is causing problems, check it out with an unbiased expert. If you drink alcohol regularly and something keeps going wrong with relationships and you can't figure out why, take action. It doesn't go away by itself.
You might look alcohol self-help groups , websites that focus on alcohol problems or call an alcohol helpline and find out what kinds of things tend to happen in the lives of people whose drinking is becoming a problem.
Or, for an even smaller step CLICK HERE to for simple screening questions, or HERE for a complete list of questionnaires and assessments from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIAAA, that can help you start getting an idea of whether and how it might be impacting your life.
In the end, however, if you have any question about how alcohol is affecting you (or some other substance abuse problem), there is no substitute for a professional evaluation and advice. Look in the telephone directory under drug and alcohol treatment and evaluation. There is lots of good information available on alcohol abuse and on treatment options for the drinker(s) and the rest of the family.
Find it, learn, and take action!
The quality of the rest of your life and the lives of those you love could depend on it.
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