The Dangers of Untreated Alcoholism. The dangers of untreated alcoholism are almost unquantifiable. From the physical, emotional, and psychological harm that it does to the body to the spiritual harm that it does to the soul, untreated alcoholism is a wholly destructive force. This is not to mention the destroyed marriages, families, friendships, and academic and occupational hopes and dreams that often also result from untreated alcoholism. The good news is that alcoholism does not need to remain “untreated;” there is always help available, and with help comes hope.
Understanding Untreated Alcoholism
Untreated alcoholism is essentially what it sounds like. It is alcoholism that goes unchecked as it continues to destroy the life of the individual as well as the lives of those around them.
Untreated alcoholism also represents chaos. This is true even if the individual has “functional” untreated alcoholism. The chaos just happens to be internal. It is a constant struggle of “Will I drink again? Do I want to drink again? Why can’t I stop drinking once I start? Why can’t I stop drinking at all?”
When these questions start to surface, they should be taken as a sign that someone has untreated alcoholism and needs help. There are other warning signs as well.
The Warning Signs of Untreated Alcoholism
As previously mentioned, untreated alcoholism is only labeled because the individual has yet to get the help that they need. Being able to spot some of the warning signs can help motivate that individual to participate in treatment.
The following are just a few of the signs of untreated alcoholism:
- “Blacking out,” while drinking
- Struggling with intense hangovers in the morning and suffering consequences from them
- Feeling depressed or anxious when not drinking
- Drinking during the morning
- Setting boundaries around drinking, and then breaking them
- Attempting to regulate the frequency or duration of drinking habits with little to no success
- Drinking alone
- Losing interest in relationships and activities that were once enjoyed
The Symptoms of Untreated Alcoholism
Now, while the previous list has to do with the warning signs of untreated alcoholism, the following list addresses the symptoms that it causes to the mind, body, and psyche:
- Having a pale or jaundiced complexion
- Struggling to eat regularly or keep down food (malnourished)
- Experiencing liver and kidney problems
- Having gastrointestinal issues
- Feeling tired and lethargic on a regular basis
- Having sore muscles and joints
- Waking up with bruises, and bruising easily
- Struggling with cognitive functioning
- Being overly forgetful
- Feeling overly stressed all the time
- Engaging in self-harm and having suicidal ideations
Excessive alcohol use has also been linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. As the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports, “There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer.” Also, “In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen.” These are the dangers of untreated alcoholism, but there is always hope to remove that “untreated” adjective.
People have been trying to treat alcoholism since even before they were using the term “alcoholism.” Many of these ways we now know to be way off of the mark. Using the lobotomy in the early 20th Century is a good example. However, roughly 88 years ago, there was a shift in treatment.
88 years ago, two men, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, founded the first 12-Step group known as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It has since gone on to help millions of individuals and their families recover from alcoholism. Two main principles of this program made it effective. The first principle is that individuals with alcoholism must work alongside others seeking sobriety to spread the message of recovery. Further, the second principle is that individuals must give up their egos and “give themselves over to a Higher Power of their understanding” (what many people refer to as God).
However, Bill W. and Dr. Bob never claimed to have a monopoly on recovery from alcoholism. They also believed in other effective forms of treatment, such as talk therapy. One example of evidence-based talk therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which works to get to the underlying issues of alcoholic behaviors. These are what Bill W. would call the real “isms;” because he believed that alcoholism was but a “symptom” of deeper issues.
Just like those two men, we believe in “the Responsibility Statement” that they helped create. It goes, “I am responsible, when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of [recovery] always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.” Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we too are responsible, and we are proud of it.