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Wyoming Alcohol Addiction


Wyoming has the distinction of being the last state to raise the legal drinking age from 19 to 21 in 1988. This culture of acceptance for underage drinking may be why, in 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that Wyoming has some one of the highest underage binge alcohol use rates of all the states. Underage binge drinking can lead to Wyoming alcohol addiction. However, it is also implicated in unintended pregnancies, youth violence and traffic crashes. According to the Wyoming Conference of Municipal Courts, 68 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 in the state in 2013 had at least one alcoholic drink, with 21.4 percent binge drinking within the previous 30 days. Wyoming alcohol addiction may be starting early, as those who drink prior to the age of 15 were also reported to be 2.5 times more likely to end up abusing alcohol in their lifetime. While the state is sparsely populated in comparison to other states, it is home to a number of breweries and has a culture of drinking.


Crime and Alcoholism in Wyoming

The Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police took it upon themselves to collect data on Wyoming alcohol addiction, as it impacts the crime rate. They discovered that even though arrests that involved alcohol decreased by 3.5 percent in 2014 from the previous year, Wyoming still had a whopping 64.18 percent of arrests that involved alcohol leading to jail time on the books. The counties with the highest rates of custodial arrests that involved Wyoming alcohol addiction were Teton, Big Horn, and Fremont. Alcoholism was implicated in resisting arrest, domestic violence, assaults, and misdemeanors at rates higher than 50 percent. Only felonies showed a smaller rate of 21.5 percent. Even though this costs the community many millions of dollars in law enforcement, alcoholism also has devastating personal consequences for the citizens of Wyoming as well.


The Potential for Wyoming Alcohol Addiction

Underage binge drinking is not the only potential risk factor that can lead to alcoholism, although prolonged exposure to alcohol is a factor. Drinking excessively raises the tolerance level of the body and it creates a need to drink even more to get the same buzz one got before the tolerance went up. The brain releases neurotransmitters that give a person a soft glow, but that buzz decreases with increased use and the alcoholic tends to lose control of their drinking—drinking either excessively or at odd times, or both. Alcoholism will ravage the body and mind of the alcoholic and cause dysfunctional family dynamics that are repeated generation after generation as a learned behavior. It is a social as well as a biological disease. Not only do alcoholics risk higher levels of physical disease, like diabetes and cancer, but they create toxic situations that impact everyone dealing with the alcoholic, from employers to loved ones. At the point where they are failing in their job duties, caught in a DUI, or involved in some domestic violence, it can be time for an intervention. The sad fact is that most alcoholics deny having a problem and so much be confronted about their behavior in order to get them treatment. Also, withdrawal from alcohol can provoke delirium tremens, a condition where the alcoholic experiences tremors and seizures, and can end up in a coma and even dead.


Medical Supervision Can Help with Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Unlike a hangover, an alcoholic has severe withdrawal symptoms to deal with when they try to dry out. That’s why it’s best for them to go to a hospital or clinical setting where they can be monitored. If they need anti-seizure medication, it can be administered promptly. Painkillers are also available during detox in a medical setting, for alcoholics who have severe migraines during withdrawal. The damage to the body can be assessed, and the next stage of recovery can then start in an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility. 


Rehab to Get to the Root of the Problem

Getting clean is just the start of a long journey to recover from alcohol addiction in Wyoming. A therapist will evaluate an alcoholic to determine the primary stressors that led to their disease. If it is an underlying mental issue, like a social anxiety, they may even prescribe pharmaceuticals to help manage the underlying condition. The recovering alcoholic must face up to their actions through peer and group counseling. They will need to attend meetings for alcoholics and depending on the format, may need to make a commitment to make amends to those they have hurt in the past through their actions. That may include family counseling too. They will get additional skills to cope with their addiction through cognitive behavioral therapy techniques or any number of alternative therapies, from art therapy to equine therapy. They will become more educated on the signs of a potential relapse and how to get help when they are at risk of drinking again. All these services are available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, but the minimum program is typically 30 days with many extending up to 90 days. Alcoholics may end up “falling off the wagon” several times before they finally can stay sober permanently. Some individuals choose to isolate themselves in sober living situations to help them get a hold of their drinking in a safe home that has no alcohol and that monitors them frequently after rehab. 


Seek The Help You Need Today!

It definitely can seem like a journey of a thousand steps, but the first step is to admit they have a problem. For those that have trouble with that first step, an intervention led by a family member or a trained professional, can help get them back on the road to sobriety. Contact an addiction specialist to start reclaiming a life that may be at risk due to alcoholism.