Alcoholism, known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a chronic, relapsing disease when one can no longer control their use of alcohol, despite its negative ramifications, and/or experience emotional distress when they are not drinking. The World Health Organization has estimated that as of 2010, there were 208 million people battling alcoholism worldwide and around 17 million adults in the U.S., that is approximately one in eight American adults. To be diagnosed with AUD, a person must meet two of the eleven symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, once diagnosed the severity of the condition is categorized as mild, moderate or severe.
Workforces with The Highest Rates of Alcohol Abuse
As the most used addictive substance, it is found that there are certain professions in the U.S. that experience the highest rates of alcohol abuse for different reasons. According to alcohol.org, reports prove that food and service workers like bartenders, servers, chefs and restaurant managers, have some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse. The George Washington University Medical Center analyzed government data in March 2008 and found that “15 percent of employees in the hospitality industry suffer from serious alcohol-related problems.”
One of the reasons this may be involves the fact that the nature of the work provides easy access to large amounts of alcohol and having drinks behind the bar is common in this field. Some restaurants/bars even offer employees a free drink when their shift is over. Other professions that have high rates of alcohol abuse include lawyers, nurses and healthcare professionals, mining and constructions workers, artists and entertainers, management positions, real estate professionals, finance, and insurance workers and those in educational services. For more information on workforces with the highest rates of alcohol abuse, see here.
Alcohol Abuse Risk Factors
Alcohol Use Disorder develops gradually overtime, as a person drinks so much that chemical changes in the brain occur. Although the exact cause of AUD is still unknown, there are a few risk factors that increase the chances of developing the disease. Individuals who are at a higher risk of becoming alcoholics may have more than 15 drinks per week if you are male or more than 12 drinks per week if you are female, have more than five drinks per day at least once a week, have a parent with AUD, or suffer from a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia.
Additionally, people with AUD may be more tempted to drink alone, have a higher tolerance, become violent or angry when asked about their drinking habits, eat poorly, neglect personal hygiene, ignore responsibilities and more.
Is Alcoholism Hereditary or Genetic?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is an abundant amount of evidence that indicates that, “alcoholism is a complex genetic disease, with variations in a large number of genes affecting the risk. While genetic differences affect risk, there is no ‘gene for alcoholism,’ and both environmental and social factors weigh heavily on the outcome.”
Furthermore, genetics are 50 percent of the underlying reason for alcohol abuse. If a person is predisposed to metabolize alcohol in such a way that the pleasurable effects are more prominent than feeling nauseous, overheating, or experiencing mood swings, the person may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder.
According to the American Addiction Centers, children who have one parent who struggles with alcohol abuse have an increased risk of becoming an alcoholic. In a survey conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine, growing up in an environment influenced by addiction can strongly predispose a person to the condition as it affects how genes are expressed and learned behaviors can change how a person perceives drugs or alcohol. For more information about genetics and alcoholism, see here.
Is stress at work an alcohol abuse risk factor?
Stress is one of the greatest precursors to an alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to Addiction Resources, the stress a person experiences at work follows them home and pollutes what is supposed to be a safe haven and reprieve from these things. Some people choose to react to this stress in an unhealthy way, and instead of managing it properly, they turn to alcohol as a means to self-medicate.
Is my age or gender an alcohol abuse risk factor?
Studies indicate that men misuse drugs more often than women, and younger adults abuse drugs more often than older adults. Thus, industries with more males or younger adults tend to have higher rates of drug abuse.
What are the symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?
The questions asked are: Have you had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended? Have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but could not? Have you spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects? Have you experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink? Have you found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems? Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends? Have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, to drink? Have you gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)? Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout? Have you had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before? Have you found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?