What is Alcoholism?
In the simplest terms, alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol. It can also be called an alcohol use disorder.
People who suffer from the severest form of alcoholism are often called “alcoholics.”
While many people associate alcoholism with people who work “blue-collar” working-class jobs, it can happen to anyone.
One profession with alarmingly high rates of alcoholism is within the legal system.
Let us dive deeper into why so many lawyers have a problem with alcohol abuse, as well as ways that can help treat this serious substance abuse issue.
Understanding Alcoholism in Lawyers
Lawyers have high-stress jobs and typically work long hours. They also participate in a lot of social drinking with their coworkers as a way to blow off steam after a long day.
Many people who work in law know that alcoholism is a chronic problem in their field. It was not until recently that a study was done to see just how serious this issue is.
The American Bar Association published this study in 2019. It showed that just over 20 percent of the lawyers they studied were drinking alcohol at harmful levels. Lawyers younger than 30 years old were found to be the most at risk of having signs of alcoholism.
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The Physical Effects of Alcoholism
One of the biggest risks of alcoholism is how it can negatively impact your health.
Moderate alcohol abuse can even have risks. Alcoholism changes the way your brain sends chemicals that are responsible for your mood and behavior, which can make it difficult to think clearly. It can cause damage to your heart, including an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and cardiomyopathy. This condition causes your heart muscle to stretch and droop, making your heart less efficient at pumping blood.
Serious alcoholics can also experience issues with their liver. These issues can include a fatty liver, cirrhosis, fibrosis, and alcoholic hepatitis — which is an inflammation of the liver that can lead to fatal liver damage.
Alcoholism also increases your chances of developing certain types of cancer, including esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.
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Mental Illness and Alcoholism
Alcohol does not just increase your risk of certain physical health problems. It also poses a risk to your mental health. People who abuse alcohol are far more likely to experience problems with anxiety, depression, and stress. These issues stem from the way that alcohol changes the chemicals in your brain.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it makes your brain release chemicals to make you feel relaxed. Excessive drinking releases too much of these chemicals, which can lead to feelings of depression.
Alcohol abuse also makes it difficult for your body to release these chemicals when you are not drinking. This means that, when the effects of alcohol are wearing off, some lawyers struggling with alcoholism feel even more depressed or anxious. This makes them crave alcohol to try and make these symptoms go away. Hence, this is why alcoholism is considered a chronic disease.
It becomes impossible for people who abuse alcohol to regulate their emotions without alcohol, and your brain craves alcohol to release these chemicals.
How do I Know if I am Struggling with Alcoholism?
For many people, it can be challenging to see or admit they have a drinking problem. This is especially true for lawyers because they often think their high level of education makes them immune to such a problem.
However, alcoholism has many clear signs that people can notice — whether you are a lawyer or not.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you often end up drinking more than you meant to or for longer periods of time?
- Have you tried to cut down or stop your drinking but found you could not?
- Do you spend a lot of time recovering from hangovers?
- Do you feel a strong urge to drink when you are sober?
- Does your drinking interfere with your ability to do your job?
- Is your drinking causing issues in your family life, with friends, or with other social relationships?
- Have you given up activities or hobbies you used to enjoy to drink instead?
- Have you ever participated in risky activities while drinking, such as driving while under the influence or having unsafe sex?
- Do you keep drinking even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious?
- Do you know that drinking is causing problems with your health but still cannot stop?
- Are you finding that you have to drink more and more in order to feel the effects?
- Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms (such as insomnia, shakiness, depression, nausea, or sweating) when you are not drinking?
If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, there is a good chance you are abusing alcohol. No one is immune to the risk of alcoholism, no matter what their career or lifestyle consists of. Your drinking problem is likely to only get worse if you do not seek help.
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Treatment Options for Alcoholics
No matter what your background or career is, it is important to seek treatment at alcohol rehab to start your path to long-term sobriety.
There are many types of treatment options available to help you to get sober. There are both medicines and behavioral therapy treatments available to help overcome addiction.
Currently, there are three approved medicines for alcoholism treatment, including:
- Disulfiram – This medicine makes you nauseous and your skin flush if you drink alcohol. These unpleasant side effects can make it easier for you to manage cravings and avoid drinking alcohol.
- Naltrexone – This medicine works in your brain to block the effects of alcohol, so you can no longer get drunk. It also reduces cravings, which helps you to stop drinking with fewer negative side effects.
- Acamprosate – This is another medicine that helps to reduce cravings for alcohol. It is especially effective in helping people right after they stop drinking.
In addition to medical treatment, your alcohol rehab program should also include behavioral therapy. By working with counselors, you learn to see the behaviors and thought processes that may have led to your alcoholism. These sessions take place in both individual and group settings.
Many alcoholics benefit greatly from group therapy sessions because they allow you to talk about your experience with people who understand exactly what you are going through.
For alcoholics with families, family therapy is another option that you should consider. By including your family in your treatment plan, you can help to repair any damage that your alcoholism has caused in your relationships. This helps to strengthen the family bond and your support system, lowering your chances of experiencing a relapse.
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Get the Help You Need at Alcohol Rehab Today
It is no secret that lawyers have high-stress jobs. It is typically this stress that leads lawyers to abuse alcohol.
However, there are better ways to manage your stress that do not pose a risk to your health.
At Pathfinders Recovery Center, we know exactly what it takes to get your life back to normal after addiction treatment.
Our premier addiction treatment centers are located in upscale areas throughout Arizona and Colorado.
Our luxury locations provide a comfortable and home-like atmosphere so that our clients feel safe and secure throughout their treatment program.
We help ensure your success by using only scientifically-backed, cutting-edge, and effective drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.
We have over 25 years of experience in helping people with addictions and co-occurring disorders to fight for a healthier and sober life.
Many of our clients wonder whether or not they will be able to take advantage of their health insurance benefits to help cover their treatment.
That is why we offer free insurance verification to see what your insurance policy covers and how we can help financially get you to treatment.
Simply give us a call, and one of our addiction specialists will check what your treatment program is covered by your insurance before you begin treatment.
At Pathfinders Recovery Center, our clients trust us to communicate with your insurance provider to ensure you receive every benefit you are entitled to.
There is no shame in admitting you have a problem with alcohol, no matter what profession you are in.
Let us use our years of experience to get you on the path to a meaningful and lasting recovery.
Contact us today, and see the difference in the recovery process for the treatment of alcoholism — especially with lawyers and other professionals in high-stress careers.