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Going through a divorce is an emotional time, and may very well lead to alcohol dependence for some. To discover what this means, and how to avoid it, read on…
Big life changes, like a divorce, can have a truly devastating impact on some people. After all, the divorce process, and having to get involved with family law specialists, is a slog. Then, to add to the admin, you’ve also got the emotional side of it all, which can really take its toll.
With this in mind, it’s really no wonder that some individuals may resort to alcoholism to get through it.
To discover why this might be the case, the definition of alcohol dependence, and the effects it may have on the body, you came to the right place. Even better, we’ll also be going into 10 ways you can avoid this dreaded consequence of divorce, right here…
What is Alcohol Dependence?
We all like a drink here and there, but there’s a fine line between enjoying a drop of alcohol and being an alcoholic. Some of the classic signs and symptoms of alcoholism, which you might just be able to identify with, include:
- Having a high tolerance to alcohol;
- Having to drink more to feel the effects of the alcohol;
- Drinking on your own;
- Getting defensive, or even violent and angry, after being asked about your dependence;
- Missing obligations, including work or school, which can lead to losing your job;
- Finding excuses to drink;
- Not eating, or eating a poor diet;
- Drinking even if it hurts your health, social life, or bank account;
- Neglecting your hygiene;
- Giving up hobbies and social obligations due to alcohol intake;
- Physical symptoms when not drinking, including shaking, nausea, and vomiting;
- Craving alcohol;
- And being unable to control the drinking.
How Might a Divorce Cause Alcoholism?
If you’re already prone to drinking, a divorce can really exacerbate things. According to studies, rates of marital dissolution are significantly higher when one member of the relationship is already dependent on alcohol. With these stats in mind, the divorce process and aftermath is sure to make this worse for the drinker.
That’s not all though, as the stress of the divorce may lead to someone who isn’t alcohol dependent to become an alcoholic. This may be due to a number of reasons, including:
- More time on their hands
- An attempt to drown out emotions
- A genetic predisposition to alcoholism
How Can Alcohol Dependence Affect Your Life?
As we’ve seen, many divorces involve alcohol dependence as a big factor. That said, dependence on a substance, like alcohol, can have even greater effects on your life than you may know. Some effects of alcoholism, both social and health-wise, include:
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol
The short-term effects of alcohol are most certainly effects we’ve all probably experienced, at some point in our lives. Whether it be the standard effects of alcohol, or the side effects from alcohol poisoning, it can be pretty dangerous. Some typical side effects of alcohol, and alcohol poisoning, include:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Poor judgment in social situations
- Passing out
- Loss of coordination
- Higher blood pressure
- Vision impairment or loss
- Changes in perception
- Alterations in personality
- Pale skin
- Lower body temperature, or hypothermia
- Irregular breathing
- Blue-tinted skin (cyanosis)
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
Consuming alcohol every so often, and experiencing these short-term side effects, will probably have no long-term effect on your body. That said, consuming a lot of alcohol regularly, and experiencing these short-term side effects often, can lead to longer-term side effects. This can affect the person, both physical and mentally…
Long-Term Physical Effects of Alcohol
- Problems with the digestive system: the lining of the stomach can be worn down by alcohol and vomiting, causing ulcers in the stomach, and throughout the digestive tract. It can also affect the absorption of nutrients, through damaging the breakdown process of food and drink. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies, and blood sugar problems.
- Problems with the pancreas: alcohol can cause your pancreas to produce harmful substances, which causes pancreatitis (inflammation), which also effects digestion.
- Problems with the central nervous system: due to the deficiencies alcohol can cause in your digestive system, it’s known to have a long-term effect on your motor function. This can cause a lack of co-ordination in bodily movements.
- Problems with the liver: a really severe and common effect of alcoholism is liver problems, which can be fatal. This includes liver disease, alcohol hepatitis, fatty liver, liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
- Bone problems: calcium imbalances, caused by alcohol, can lead to weak bones, osteoporosis, and an increased chance of fractures.
- Cardiovascular issues: your heart can truly suffer from alcohol, causing increased blood pressure, stroke, cardiomyopathy, blood clots, and heart attacks.
- Reproductive issues: erectile dysfunction, irregular menstruation, and even reduced fertility are potential side effects of alcoholism. What’s more, drinking while pregnant can cause miscarriages, birth defects, stillbirth, and foetal alcohol syndrome.
- May be more likely to develop certain cancers: alcohol is also a cause factor in certain types of cancers, including breast, liver, larynx, oesophagus, and throat.
- Other health problems: some other problems, which don’t necessarily fall under a certain category, but are caused by excessive alcohol consumption, include anaemia and malnutrition.
Long-Term Psychological and Social Effects of Alcohol
As we’ve seen, excessive alcohol consumption has a real myriad of potential side effects on your physical health. That said, these physical problems can also transcend into your emotional and psychological health in many ways, including:
- Memory problems
- Learning difficulties
- Low attention span
- Personality changes
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of a social life
10 Ways to Avoid Alcohol Dependence After Your Divorce
Now that we’ve seen the detrimental effects of excessive alcohol consumption, learning the ways to avoid it is our next step. As we’ve seen, divorce can cause emotional trauma, which may likely provoke a reliance on alcohol. However, here are 10 ways you can avoid this fate:
- Get Out of the House
Leaving the house, and getting away from the alcohol cupboards, will really help. Whether it be meeting some friends, taking the kids to school, or heading to work, these actions will steer you away from being alone, and more prone to grab a bottle of something.
- Exercise More
Going through a divorce can lead to depression, which, therefore, causes alcohol dependence. But, this cycle can be interrupted through exercise, which is a known mood booster, quashing the chance of relying on alcohol to avoid emotions.
What’s more, some studies have even shown that there may be a correlation between treating alcohol dependence and exercise. So, it’s definitely worth a try!
- Find New Habits
Drinking alcohol can be boiled down to a habit that needs to be broken. So, one way to avoid this habit is by forming new habits, which aren’t detrimental to your health. For example, chewing gum might help, or exercising could distract you from the drink.
Alternatively, taking a walk around the block when you feel that urge could be all you need to avoid drinking. Forming these new habits when you feel the urge to drink will help to change your psychological associations with these feelings.
- Set Goals
Setting goals is a great way to have something to work towards, further distracting you from your dependence. These could be career goals, life goals, or social goals, but whatever it is, and however big or small you make it, this is the perfect distraction.
- Start Saving Your Alcohol Money
A really great way to motivate yourself to stop drinking is to save any money you would’ve spent on alcohol in a savings account. Having a visual representation of the money, that you can access via a banking app, will be such a positive achievement, and will demonstrate to you that it’s worth avoiding.
- Don’t Stockpile
Avoiding buying alcohol is the only sure-fire way to stop drinking. So, when you do your weekly shop, be as strict as possible with what you put in your basket. Maybe even bring a friend with you to stop you from dropping a bottle into your trolley.
Meeting with friends and family can be a valuable distraction from the world of alcohol. This is a new habit you can ensue, which will take you away from revolving everything around your next drink.
- …but Not with Drinkers
For many people, drinking is a very social activity; one pint leads to another, and another, and then another. Talking and drinking makes alcohol go down very quickly, and this really is no help to an alcoholic. So, be sure to socialise with people who don’t drink, or suggest alternative activities to enjoy each other’s company.
- Speak to Someone
If you suspect that you’re relying on alcohol a little too much during your divorce, talking out your emotions and thoughts with someone will really help. Be it a therapist or a friend, or even both, this will really help you to understand what you’re going through, and tackle it head on.
You might be thinking, “I’m too embarrassed to talk to anyone about this,” and this is certainly a tricky barrier to swerve. That said, a good friend will be there for you, and support you in any way they can. What’s more, it’s a therapist’s job to guide people through these challenging times, so they’ll be used to this.
- Go to an AA Meeting
Perhaps speaking to a friend or therapist is a little daunting, and you feel like you’re going to be judged. Well, at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, there’s no chance of this, as everyone is going through something very similar to you.
Here, you’ll be able to speak to like-minded people, and talk through your divorce with them to help you get to the bottom of your feelings. What’s more, you can also hear stories from those who are experiencing something similar, to hear how they’re tackling the problem. Seeing someone else going through what you’re going through may just put it all in perspective.
Are You an Alcoholic?
Clearly, the mental health side of going through a divorce can have a real impact on the mental and physical health of the parties involved. What’s more, if alcohol is involved, these issues can be drastically compounded, further impacting the physical and mental health of the individual.
If you’re struggling with alcoholism after your divorce, or you think you might start to rely on alcohol to get through your divorce, I hope that these 10 tips help you along the way. Have you experienced alcohol dependence yourself, and have anything to add? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments down below, so we can share experiences, and learn from one another along the way.