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Friday, September 21, 2018

Calling Alcohol A Drug

alcohol
The optics on alcohol are quite tricky. On the one hand, the substance is legal for adult consumption and sold practically everywhere; on the other, no amount of alcohol is safe, and prolonged use can cause a host of medical problems. People who use alcohol in hazardous ways often attempt to distance themselves from those who use drugs. After all, many people in recovery via Alcoholics Anonymous still frown upon people at meetings mentioning drug use. For many decades, those seeking recovery were encouraged only to listen at meetings, if their problems stem from drug addiction.

While many AA meetings around the country and ostensibly abroad take a more enlightened approach when it comes to the members with a history of substance use, there exists a pervasive mindset that drugs and alcohol are somehow diametric. While each person probably has their reasons for viewing whiskey differently than heroin (including the general public), at the end of the day alcohol can bring individuals to abysmal lows just like any drug that carries the risk of addiction.

Changing how the public looks at drugs and alcohol is a progressive step worth discussing. One could easily argue that the stereotypes that follow addicts around are far more vitriolic than those tied to alcoholism. Most people hear about "functioning" alcoholics, few people hear about functioning heroin addicts. Despite the disparity in optics, more people succumb to alcohol-related illness each year than from drug use. An estimated 2.8 million deaths every year can be attributed to alcohol use, according to the British Medical Journal. A new editorial in the BMJ says it’s time to start calling alcohol what it is, a drug.

 

Treating Alcohol As a Drug


The experts writing in the BMJ argue that recognizing alcohol as a drug could have important benefits for public health, serving to strengthen policy responses to harms caused by addiction industries. Professors Kypros Kypri of The University of Newcastle and Jim McCambridge of The University of New York wrote:  

Alcohol, actually ethanol (C2H5OH), is a psychoactive molecule ingested by 2.4 billion people globally. A central nervous system depressant, it exists naturally and can be produced in people’s homes. Any alcohol consumption confers health risks, including for a range of cancers, and any possible cardiovascular benefits are smaller than was previously understood. Alcohol harms users through intoxication, organ toxicity, and addiction, which cause an estimated 2.8 million deaths every year. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis the Global Burden of Disease Alcohol Collaborators concluded that the “the level of alcohol consumption that minimised harm across health outcomes was zero.”

Policy aside, it’s possible that lumping all mind-altering substances that carry the potential for addiction under one umbrella could help people in addiction recovery. Many people over the years have erroneously thought that they could continue using alcohol while in recovery for drugs, and vice versa. On a regular basis, newcomers will relapse on their substance of choice after first using something they never had problems with in the past. What is more, the disease excels at convincing men and women that dispensations can be made in recovery.

 

Addiction is Addiction is Addiction


Programs specific to assisting people recover are of vital importance and play an essential role in society. The way they operate is not the focus of this article. The salient focal point is the benefit of setting legality and stereotypes aside and helping more people see that alcohol is deadly addictive substance, the same as drugs. Helping people new to recovery understand that, no matter what program they subscribe to for guidance or what is spelled out in the name of such modalities, alcohol is a drug. If drugs bring a person to recovery, alcohol use must discontinue. If alcohol use results in needing outside help, the use of any mind-altering substance must stop too.

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you are unable to stop drinking or using another kind of drug on your own. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and provide you with the skills and tools necessary for leading a productive and fulfilling life in recovery. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today!

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