The night is young. You’re looking forward to being with friends and having a good time. You know you’re going to have a few drinks and you’re feeling pretty good about the evening ahead. But your relationship ended just last week, you’ve been working a lot of overtime and you’re tired. Everything will be OK though, as long as you maintain and don’t let anyone know that inside you are struggling.
An evening of drinking with your friends seems harmless. However, it could be a setup for a night of avoidable disaster. Most people don’t go out with the intention of drinking too much. In fact, they mean to only have a few drinks and enjoy themselves. Alcohol, however, can alter a person’s mood.
Starting out the evening might just be about trying to forget a few painful things and believing a couple of drinks will do the trick. Maybe everything is OK early on, you’re feeling good, having fun and being a bit uninhibited after knocking back a few. This might translate into a little more talking, a little dancing and being more outgoing all around.
The dark side of this is that consuming alcohol will also help release those feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness that have been pushed down/away. If drowning your sorrows continues to be the way you choose to cope with them, little problems often become big problems. Under the influence of alcohol, the ability to reason is impaired and people become more impulsive, are more likely to act out of character and are often harder on themselves. Decision-making abilities plummet.
In addition to so many other life-altering decisions, alcohol has a tragically close relationship with suicide. It is an ongoing problem that can be prevented if people who recognize misuse of alcohol use healthy interventions to address their drinking behaviors and suicidal thoughts. According to an article titled “Alcohol and Suicide” that was published on alcoholrehabguide.org in February 2022, “29% of suicide victims in America were found with alcohol in their system.” That is nearly one-third of suicides, which in 2019 alone translated to about 15,830 Americans whose death by suicide occurred while the person had alcohol in their system.
Alcohol abuse is too often a key factor in suicide. Alcohol abuse is an epidemic. Suicide is an epidemic. Unfortunately, the two are linked in numerous ways. Fortunately, treatment for one often assists in treating the other, but each individual has to ask for help. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S. If you or a loved one is experiencing alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts or the combination thereof, seeking immediate assistance could save a life, and have no doubt that a life is worth saving.
Help is just a phone call away. Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) is here to offer you confidential and free support, guidance, resources and/or treatment. We can be reached at (213) 738-3500. Feel free to ask to speak with the Substance Abuse Resource Program coordinator (which is me), a peer support member, a chaplain or one of our licensed clinical psychologists. You can also call the Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF) members listed here, attend a POF meeting (if you are a sworn member of the Department) or attend an AA meeting. Again, PSB is available to help you figure out your next step or help you find out where to access it.