The Vulnerable Population of Alcoholics

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The Vulnerable Population of Alcohol Abusers

Lee Ranalli

Arizona State University

The Vulnerable Population of Alcohol Abusers


I chose the vulnerable population of people who abuse alcohol because of the history of this type of abuse in my family and my own personal drive of wanting to learn more about it. The main subject I was looking forward to learn more about was comparing the findings on researched family dynamics to my own childhood family dynamics involved with alcoholism. I have learned time and time again about all the genetic factors and the specific science of alcoholism but I thought it might be nice change of pace to research the bigger picture of the effects of this disease and not so much the disease itself. In this paper, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are similar terms but with different definitions. Alcohol abuse will be defined as “pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work” (“What is the Difference”, 2006). This includes involving oneself in risky behavior such as drinking and driving, being irresponsible such as missing school and work, and has the potential to eventually lead to alcoholism (“What is the Difference”, 2006). Alcoholism will be defined as a disease that can be diagnosed by looking at a variety of components including “a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite harm or personal injury, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking stops, and the need to increase the amount drunk in order to feel the effects” (“What is the Difference”, 2006).

I make the assumption based on my own experiences that many people can still be functional in everyday life and still be classified as an alcoholic. In my family, men on both sides do not consider themselves alcoholics or alcohol abusers solely on the fact that they can perform in everyday life and accomplish their tasks. The denial of alcohol abuse amongst the people I have had closest contact with have been very high and if ever confronted about it they get very defensive. To go along with the extensive research that goes with this paper, I would like to see how the data can be generalized to my own life and my own personal experiences with which I have experienced.

Description of the Population

        For expressing the important aspects of the vulnerable populations Aday’s model of predictors will be used from Stanhope and Lancaster (2004). Aday’s model consists of an interrelated triangle like set-up consisting of three categories titled social status, social capital and human capital. Social status includes age, sex, race and ethnicity while social capital includes family structure, marital status, voluntary organizations and social networks. Finally, the human capital category includes schooling, jobs, financial income and housing. To be considered a vulnerable population the group must have negative aspects from all three categories to put them at greatest risk (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2004).

Social status.

In 2004, there were over 12,000 people in Arizona treated in emergency rooms with alcohol abuse being their first-listed diagnosis. Of this 12,000, the majority age group consisted of young adults aged from 20-44 years old who attributed for 55.2% of the total treated patients. Other major age groups included the middle-age group (45-64) comprising of 30.5% and the adolescent age group (15-19) following with 8.8%. The smaller percentage age groups fell on opposite sides of the age continuum with the percentages of the elderly (65+) being 3.3% and children (<15) following with 2.0%. Overall, of this 12,000 reported cases, 71.8% were documented as being male and only 28.1% as female (“Emergency Department”, 2005).

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        The statistics are comparatively different when contrasted with the 2004 inpatient results for discharges in Arizona.. In total, there were over 4,500 discharges from inpatient settings of people who had alcohol abuse as their first-listed diagnosis. Of this 4,500, the age group that had the highest percentage involved was the middle-aged group (45-64) with 49.8%. Following the middle-aged group was the young adults (20-44) with 38.6% and then results drastically declined to the elderly (65+) population which contributed to 9.9% of the total. The two smaller percentage age groups consisted of adolescents (15-19) with 1.3% and children (<15) with a ...

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