Alcohol addiction is a deadly disease that can destroy lives, families, take away your health – and kill you. According to Facing Addiction with NCAAD (National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence), alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. It is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use.
According to NCADD, alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks, how long one has been drinking, or even exactly how much alcohol one consumes. But it has a great deal to do with a person’s uncontrollable need for alcohol. Most alcoholics can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. The alcoholic is frequently in the grip of a powerful craving, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. While some people are able to recover without help, the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover from their disease. With support and treatment many are able to stop drinking and reclaim their lives.
The month of April was National Alcohol Awareness Month, which is aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction. This year’s theme was “Help for Today – Hope for Tomorrow.” According to NCADD, one in every 12 adults, or 17.6 million people, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence. Here are some places locally for treatment and recovery for this debilitating disease.
Where to Get Help Treatment Centers
- Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery
12851 Grand River Ave., Brighton
- Flint Odyssey House
529 Martin Luther King Ave., Flint
- Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center
- Organizations Sober House
720 Ann Arbor St., Flint
- Genesee County Prevention Coalition
902 East Sixth St., Flint
- National Council on Alcoholism
Support Groups Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organization of people who want to share their experiences, lend strength and help the members and others recover from alcoholism. To be a member, all you have to do is want to stop drinking. You don’t even have to pay dues to go to AA meetings. They pass a basket, but donation is not required.
There are two AA meeting formats – open and closed. Open meetings will have speakers who will talk about how they drank, how AA helped them, and people share experiences. Family members and people interested in AA are welcome to attend open meetings. Closed meetings are for alcoholics only. At these meetings, members may talk about personal problems, issues they have with sobriety, and can get direct, personal help as they commit to staying sober – one day at a time. Other members may talk about problems they encountered and share strategies for how they overcame them.
You have to want to attend AA meetings – they are not for people who are being forced into any sort of sobriety. The organization is strictly for people who want to stop drinking. However, it does not claim to be a medical organization. For a list of meetings in Genesee County, visit geneseecountyaa.org/meetings/
Al-Anon Family Group
These fellowships of relatives and friends of alcoholics share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. It is believed alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery. For a list of meetings in Genesee County, visit gaais.webs.com/
Sources: Recovery Worldwide LLC, Facing Addiction with NCADD, Michigan NCADD, alcohol.org,
Facts About Alcoholism
- 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use.
- Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S.
- Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.
- Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the U.S. (except those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions related to alcohol consumption.
Warning Signs of Alcoholism
- Frequent binge drinking
- Perpetual mood shifts
- Poor work or school performance
- Excuses for neglecting responsibilities
- Denial of excessive alcohol use
- Acts of violence or crime
- Decreased interest in hobbies
Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems, including but not limited to:
- Dementia, stroke and neuropathy
- Cardiovascular problems including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
- Psychiatric problems including depression, anxiety and suicide
- Social problems including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence including child maltreatment, fights and homicide
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries
- Increased risk for many kinds of cancers including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
- Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic heptitis, cirrhosis and gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
- Alcohol abuse or dependence – alcoholism.