“Alcoholism doesn’t have a face. It can be a CEO, a business owner all the way down to the 11 or 12-year-old kid stealing it from their parent’s liquor cabinet.” Scott Huhn, president of Aspire Counseling Services, would know. He was that 11-year-old kid at one point. He got sober at age 16 and has been working in the addiction counseling field for more than three decades.
Huhn explains, the disease can take many different forms. “There are periodic alcoholics. They might not drink for two to three months at a time. But when they tie one on, boom, they just can’t seem to stop. Then you have the functional alcoholic. The person who goes to work every day. They’re great people. Usually there is no fighting with the family, maybe they’re happier, jollier when they’re drinking. But a lot of times they’re not connected, not emotionally connected. Then there are the hardcore alcoholics, who they have to have a drink every day, in the morning if they don’t have a drink , they get the shakes.”
Studies show alcohol kills roughly 88,000 people every year, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In comparison illicit drugs and opioids combined killed only 72,000 people last year. “We bury a lot of people from alcohol. Usually alcohol and crashes, alcohol and suicides or alcohol and overdoses. And it’s so sad,” says Huhn. As for why alcohol abuse is so prolific, he says there are a few reasons. “It’s not illegal. A lot of people use it. It’s like a rite of passage. And a lot of families, it’s not their fault, but alcohol seems to surround everything they do.”
For many an evening glass of wine or drink with friends, is not a problem. But for the estimated 15.1 million adults and 623,000 adolescents who suffer from an alcohol use disorder, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it can be. But for all who suffer, there is hope and help. “I guarantee you, if you work a program and do what is suggested and take it one day at a time, you can get sober and your life can be better than you ever imagined. If being clean and sober wasn’t better, do you think I’d be here talking to you right now? No! I’d be out there drinking and using. Not only do you get your life back. You get your family back. How cool is that.”
Huhn joined us live on 17 News at Sunrise and after for a facebook live interview for more on addiction and getting help. We have also linked a few local resources for help along with a quiz you can take completely on your own, to determine if you have a problem with alcohol. Huhn recommends you get support if you want to quit. Whether that’s through a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or an inpatient treatment program.