Sometimes, it’s easy to want to drink. It’s common to want to go out with friends, go to the bar or club, and enjoy yourself. In fact, in large cities, such as Los Angeles or Miami, there might be a whole community that glamorizes and romanticizes having a drink in your hand. It’s a part of being cool – you work hard and play hard. It’s part of your very lifestyle. It’s part of being accepted by your friends. But, if you’re in this kind of community, and you’re ready to step away from the ritzy Los Angeles drinking circles or if you’re ready to take a step back from drinking Cuba Libres in Miami, it might be hard to do. If you’re seeing the damage drinking is doing to your life, pulling away might be a challenge.
Research has shown that this is actually one of the obstacles to sober living. Those who relapse and who are still identified with the glamour of drinking can more frequently relapse. If you can break away from the glamour and the idealization of drinking and instead realize that sober living is more important for your health and even your sanity, you’ll be supporting not just yourself but others as well – perhaps you’ll even support those in the community you’re trying to break from.
In fact, another study done in 2006 and published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) revealed intriguing information about alcohol abuse and chronic relapse.
Essentially, the study found that those who become alcohol dependent before the age of 25 are less likely to ever seek treatment than those who become alcohol dependence at age 30 or older. This same group (those 25 and younger) is also more likely to have multiple dependence episodes of longer duration than those who become alcohol dependent later in life. Lastly, the younger group of alcohol-addicted individuals met more of the alcohol dependence diagnostic criteria than those 30 or older.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence. The DSM is a standardized text and clinical reference used by psychologists and therapists across North America to diagnose their clients. In the most recent edition, there are eleven different criteria for determining the severity of an addiction. The number of criteria present for a patient indicates the severity of the addictive disorder. For example, 2-3 criteria indicate a mild disorder; 4-5 criteria indicate a moderate disorder; and 6 or more of the 11 criteria indicate a severe disorder.
The study found the importance in systematically counseling those who are under 25 about their drinking. This is especially important because of the results of the study but also because typically medical providers tend to under-diagnose teens ages 14-18 who use, abuse, and are dependent on alcohol.
For those who are under the age of 25, there are some clear obstacles to maintaining sober living. One of these is indeed still feeling identified with the glamour of using drugs, as mentioned above. Other obstacles to sober living include the level of maturity, an inability to surrender to treatment because of not yet hitting bottom, and returning to the same peer group after treatment. These factors play a significant role in a young adult’s ability to get and stay sober.
Certainly, the glamour of having a drink and letting loose can be felt at any age. No matter who you are and regardless of whether you’re living in Los Angeles or Miami, when you make the decision to get sober, you’ll be glad that you let go of that glamour in exchange for feeling grateful – grateful for a sober and clean life.
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