Alcohol is a killer disease, and it’s killing men at an alarming rate.
What’s going on and what can be done to curb the tide?
Of this group 10.6 million were men.
The same report shows that of the total U.S. population of adults over the age of 26, 5.9% had an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) and 78.7% of those adults suffered from a mental illness, and 78.7% of that population suffered from a major depressive episode.
Nearly 88,000 deaths (62,000 men and 26,000 women) died that same year from an alcohol related death.
This makes alcohol the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. “Harmful use of alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in males ages 15-59” according to a report from the World Health Organization report in 2014 . The WHO report goes on to state: “7.6% of all male deaths in 2012 were attributable to alcohol.”
Men’s Alcoholism – Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Drinking among men is as timeless as hunting and gathering. For centuries its been socially acceptable and socially expected that men drink together at work, at play and at war. Today, the problem of an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) is greater in men than in women, for the same reason. Drinking is socially accepted; and it is expected that men drink with co-workers, friends, neighbors and relatives.
Not all men who drink have an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder).
Overall, those who become addicted to alcohol represent about 7% of the total population. Alcoholism is well documented as a fatal, progressive disease that, like many other diseases, lacks a cure.
Alcoholism Starts Gradually and Expands
Those who progress from a normal drinker, to a problem drinker, to an alcoholic drinker – are looked down upon as being “less than” by their peers and family; all of whom tire of the abhorrent behavior common with alcoholics. The social stigma of being an alcoholic is shameful and degrading and causes men to hide their drinking from others. But this humiliation only increases the amount and frequency that a man drinks, which in turn, increases his unacceptable behavior. Eventually problems such as DUI, extra marital affairs, termination from one’s employment, financial problems and more makes for some very difficult decisions by those affected by the alcoholic’s family; and employer.
Much like an avalanche, an alcohol related problem may occur that seems relatively small. But then another, and another, and another occur – until one’s life seems to implode – creating a disaster.
Alcohol Kills Brain Cells – Causing Poor Decision-making and Mood Swings
Compounding the problem even further, alcohol kills brain connections and a person with a severe AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) destroys neural connections that affect areas of the brain including the decision-making process and mood and stress areas. This often results in a major depressive disorder as well as a generalized anxiety disorder; not to mention the poor decisions an alcoholic makes on a daily basis.
What’s the Solution?
If alcoholism were simply a matter of character and strength of will, the solution is to simply stop drinking. If a person has a peanut allergy, they simply stop eating peanuts and anything that has peanuts in the recipe.
But alcoholism is much more than an allergy; it is a brain disease as well as a behavioral disorder. So the solution is much, much more than abstinence. It requires an effective medical and behavioral intervention to be successfully treated.
And while there is no cure for alcoholism, there are solutions that include medical, psychiatric, psychological and spiritual treatments.
Addiction medicine has come a long way in the medical field. Physicians who are board certified in addiction medicine are able to safely detox patients with an AUD and then treat their symptoms until they stabilize. Medications such as Naltrexone and Vivitrol are available that help curb cravings and block the receptors so that even if one drinks, they will not become drunk. The idea is that if there is no reward of drinking, the behavior will eventually stop.
Alcoholism Psychiatric and Psychological Elements
Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that is commonly treated by a psychiatrist, and often in conjunction with a psychologist and/or a licensed mental health provider. A behavioral health provider uses evidence based clinical interventions to help the patient change addictive thinking patterns and unhealthy behavior patterns created by alcoholism.
This is commonly referred to as “alcohol treatment.”
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery – Rehab for Men
Self-help organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART are designed to help the alcoholic change destructive behavioral problems. These organizations have helped many thousands of people across the globe improve their lives while remaining abstinent from alcohol.
Recently, monitoring services have proven success in assisting in behavioral changes by increasing accountability and responsibility in the alcoholic. Those who engage in monitoring have a significant increase in success in achieving long-term sobriety.
Spirituality – not to be confused with religion
Spirituality is not to be confused with religion. Religious people, even clergy, are not immune from alcoholism. Spirituality is about one’s awareness of something greater than one’s self and for the alcoholic; this awareness is non-existent to the degree that an alcoholic only feels comfortable when he’s intoxicated. There is no substitute for spiritual awareness, especially an alcohol substitute.
In the course of alcohol treatment, mindfulness and meditation are proven to help restore the brain’s neural connections; while at the same time, restoring one’s sense of serenity. Physiologically speaking,mindfulness meditation helps the body’s parasympathetic system restore itself in times of agitation.
Mentally these practices provide a sense of well-being, and spiritually it helps one feel connected to a power greater than one’s self.
Alcoholism is a deadly disease
Alcoholism is a deadly disease and affects millions of men in harmful and terminal ways. It may be successfully treated through a multi-disciplinary approach that combines medical, psychiatric, psychological, behavioral and spiritual practices to help one attain lasting sobriety.
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery is a private alcoholism, addiction, co-occurring disorder and trauma treatment program for men 30 and older; located in the beautiful mountains of Prescott, Arizona.
We use a multi-disciplinary addiction treatment approach implemented by licensed professionals. Our team includes a medical Physician / Addictionologist, Addiction Psychiatrist, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Registered Nurse, several Licensed Therapists, and an addiction Nutritionist. Mindfulness training, healthy exercise, nutrition training and psycho-social education are a part of our treatment program. We have chosen to keep our facility small and staff to client ratio large. Each client receives individual therapy and counseling; as well as group therapy and counseling.
This article, written by Kenneth Chance, originally appeared on https://www.arrowheadlodgerecovery.com/alcoholism-men-killer-disease/. Kenneth Chance is the founder and CEO/President of Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.
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