Psychological Self-Help

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109
For a listing of local drug and alcohol treatment centers, go
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is wide spread. It is a very serious personal and social
problem (Milgram, 1993). Today, it is estimated that 10% to 15% of
men and 3% to 6% of women are dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism
rates vary by ethnic groups: 12% of whites, 15% of African-
Americans, 23% of Mexican-Americans are problem drinkers. It is
estimated that 25% of the people who turn to alcohol do so to deal
with stress. In 10 years, it is believed that alcoholism and depression
will become our most costly health problems, overtaking cancer.
Excessive alcohol can damage many organs of the body. 100,000 die
each year from alcohol related diseases and traumatic deaths. 40% of
all industrial fatalities are alcohol related. Alcohol is also a factor in
45% of all fatal auto crashes (almost 17,700 deaths in 1992). Non-
alcoholic men, aged 45-59, earn $24,000 per year, but alcoholic men
only earn $16,000 and 33% have work attendance problems. About
one-third of people with drug or alcohol problems are also depressed.
And, 30% of suicides (46% of teen suicides) involve alcohol. Indeed,
drug and alcohol addictions are thought to be dangerous ways of
attempting to cope with emotional and interpersonal problems, such as
shame, guilt, loneliness, resentment, fear, etc. Yet, families wait an
average of seven years to seek help. 
Teenage alcohol and drug use increased in the 90's. Remember,
one in five children live with an addict. Children of alcoholics have
more ADHD, more conduct disorders, and more anxiety than children
of non-alcoholics (see comments under Codependency). Moreover, a
parent who is a heavy user of alcohol increases the chances that
his/her child will start using early. 43% of sons of alcoholics become
dependent. The younger one starts, the more likely one is to become
alcoholic, e.g. 40% of those starting before 15 will develop an
addiction (starting even younger, increases the risk further). Other
factors that increase the use of alcohol by teens are: Being socially
needy, having friends who push alcohol, being shy and insecure,
lacking self-confidence in school, having poor self-control and
sometimes psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, self-
doubts, and feeling antisocial or controlled by others (Scheier, Botvin
& Baker, 1997). 
Total drug and alcohol consumption declined among U.S. college
students between 1980 and 1992, but the pattern of drinking has
changed. The amount of alcohol consumed in each separate drinking
session increased. That is, college students are moving towards more
binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in a row for men and 4 for
women). "Frequent" binge drinking is 3 or more times in two weeks. A
large national study (Wechsler, Dowdall, Davenport & DeJong, 1993)
found that 44% of college students had binged during the prior two
weeks (50% of men and 39% of women). About half of the binge
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