Everyone reaches a certain age and thinks, “Wow, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself ____.” Many people who used to be alcohol abusers think the same thing about the period they were alcoholics. They wish someone had told them how easy it could happen to them and how they wouldn’t realize how much alcohol affected their lives until it was too late.
During the young adult years, everyone seems to be attending social activities where alcohol seems to be readily available and almost the center-point of the gathering. At this time it feels fun and exciting – being able to socialize and drink feels so grown up and mature. What people don’t tell you is how easily this can transform into something worse. We begin to forget what it feels like to have fun without drinking. Soon every social gathering needs to involve alcohol or it is “not as much fun.” What we fail to realize is that there is an entirely different social scene focused on the important things of having fun – building connections and lasting memories. Ironically many of the memories gained during these drinking events are often lost.
1. The Long-Term Effects I Wish I had Known about Alcoholism
We have heard about the long-term effects of alcohol all our lives, but for some reason, we associate these problems with chronic drinkers of 30+ years. In fact, many of these problems can arise from merely unhealthy drinking. This type of drinking constitutes binge drinking (4 or more drinks in 2 hours) and increased risks for heavy drinking (binge drinking 5 or more days per month). While most people might not be heavy drinkers, the monthly party could still cause long-term side effects. Some of these effects can include:
- Nerve damage
- Psychological disorders
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Premature aging
- Heart disease
- Different types of cancer
- Changes in the brain linked to dementia
Those of us in recovery or currently struggling with alcoholism understand how easy and surprisingly the disease can creep up and take over. If only people were more aware of how easy dependence and addiction can happen or even how much of an impact the monthly social drinking can have.
2. The Financial Cost of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
The average household spends $565 a year on alcohol, $5,650 in 10 years, or a whopping $22,600 over a 40-year period. $565 per year breaks down to about $11 a week, which means the average house buys one bottle of wine a week or perhaps a nice drink when out to dinner. I’m guessing for most of us that number is (or was) pretty low. Not to mention the costs of spending money on designated driving transportation to and from gatherings, the costs to get into bars, not to mention the financial costs of the consequences of drinking like DUI charges.
3. Time Lost with Family and Other Loved Ones
I wish I had known earlier how many memories I would miss my family and friends. All the times I’ve missed birthdays and holidays because I wasn’t feeling well or I wanted to go home and drink. These moments will never be given back to me. Now that these moments have passed, I cannot change them. One day you will look back on those days with deep regret.
4. How Alcohol Affects Personal Relationships
Personal relationships slowly start to deteriorate. It is almost impossible to maintain a healthy relationship when drugs or alcohol are in the mix. Many personal relationships (whether romantic or friendly) begin to fall apart one way or another. Alcohol severely affects these aspects of relationships:
- Shared values
We tend to be illogical and emotional when drunk or high – this never tends to end well. In other words, all parts of personal relationships are affected by alcohol abuse and addiction.
5. Risky Behaviors While Drinking Alcohol
One of people’s biggest regrets are the poor decisions they make while intoxicated. Often times people struggle with DUI charges, car accidents that hurt or impair other people, physical altercations, experiment with drugs, engage in unsafe and unwanted sexual activity, among many other dangerous behaviors. Due to one particular action, some people may pay the consequences for years or their entire lives.
6. Risky Behaviors Taken While Intoxicated Like Having Unprotected Sex
Alcohol is directly related to STDs. Many individuals who are typically shy tend to drink alcohol at social functions to loosen up and be more socially outgoing. While a few drinks may raise your self-esteem, too many drinks may make you sexually promiscuous. Many sexually transmitted diseases come from individuals being intoxicated and taking risks with unprotected sex. Young individuals need to think about this factor before it is too late and they have contracted an STD, some of which last a lifetime.
7. I Wish I Had Known What Emotional Addiction to Alcohol Was
Being shy at a social gathering can be difficult. Often people drink to help them socialize, but this can have harmful long-term effects they begin to rely on alcohol to socialize instead of learning naturally. This leads to alcohol being required to have fun. This is a falsehood. We forget how to have fun like we did when we were kids as soon as we start depending on alcohol to make us more fun.
The fun memories that you have as you get older are not the memories of drinking alcohol; they are the memories of the friends you were with and what you were doing. Laughing until your stomach and your cheeks hurt can be done just as easily sober as when drinking alcohol.
8. True Contentment Does Not Come in a Bottle of Alcohol
I think that when we drink, it is in hopes to just feel a little bit better; but we are never truly happier, just numb. We escape our lives for a little bit, but the further we drift away from reality, the harder it is for us to face the truth. We focus too much on the stressors that we fail to feel content with the little things in life like the laughter of friends and family, hearing the birds sing, the fresh smell of flowers, or just the beauty of our world around us. Recovery is about learning to focus on these things rather than the negative. Every day is a joy especially when you live in a beautiful city like Tampa, Fl.
9. That I Needed Help Before I Realized I Did
Often times we fail to realize we need help until it is too late. For those of us that are fortunate enough we have family or friends that help us understand our situation in a safe and comforting setting. It is up to us the listen; but as stated earlier, alcohol tends to push us outside of reason and reality. Sometimes it takes us being at our lowest point – a situation we never thought we’d be in – for us to realize how bad our situation is. I just wish that most of us could have the foresight to see the problems of our actions sooner. If I had I would have saved myself a lot of memories, money, and stress.
10. How Liberating it Would be to Live a Sober Life in Recovery
Living a sober and healthy life is incredible! I am happier than I have ever been in my life because much of the things that stressed me before involved alcohol in some way. The only regret I have is that I didn’t do this sooner before I did a lot of the damage I have done to myself.
But, just remember it is never too late to correct your problems and get over your insecurities. You too can be helped with drug and alcohol addiction. Find a reputable, licensed inpatient addiction treatment facility and take your life back. Don’t let addiction destroy the rest of your life. Get the help you need and deserve.