Alcohol is the most popular drug in the world. People of many different cultures drink alcohol for different purposes. Because of its availability, and because it’s socially acceptable, it’s easy to assume that alcohol is safe. Is alcohol addictive? Yes. In fact, many people are unaware of the fact that alcohol is highly addictive.
In fact, alcohol is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. It causes physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can actually be so serious as to kill you. In this article, we’re going to describe some of the health issues associated with alcohol so you can understand the dangers of alcohol addiction.
Understanding Alcohol and Psychological Addictions
People can be psychologically addicted to alcohol without actually being physically addicted to it. This occurs when the brain associates pleasure and reward with the consumption of alcohol.
Psychological addiction can also describe the limiting belief that one needs a substance in order to function. In the case of alcohol, this is often seen when people believe that they need a drink in order to socialize.
While their body might not actually be dependent on alcohol, they have developed a belief that encourages them to drink whenever they’re around people.
Alcohol, Addiction and the Brain
Addictions, whether they are psychological or physical, all lead to changes in the brain.
One thing common among addictions of all types is the changes that occur in the dopamine reward pathway. This is the pathway that is naturally activated when we do something that is good for the survival of ourselves or our family. Things like eating healthy, exercising, and having sex all produce a rewarding sensation.
Alcohol can cause the same sort of dopamine release.
This becomes a problem when you continue to abuse a substance or behavior so much that your dopamine system becomes overloaded. It becomes reliant on this behavior in order to release a normal amount of dopamine. This creates symptoms of psychological addiction. As your dopamine system becomes desensitized, it gets harder to enjoy things without alcohol being present.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
These are some of the most common signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction.
Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms
- Different behavior. Regular alcohol use can cause problems with behavior. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and can make people behave erratically or angrily..
- Missing or rescheduling of responsibilities and social gatherings in order to drink.
- Being unable to attend social settings or work without having a drink.
- Frequently showing up at work drunk or hungover, or missing time at work to get alcohol or deal with your hangovers.
- Lying about the amount that you drink or hiding your drinking from your friends.
- Drinking in secret or drinking alone because you don’t want others to know how much you drink.
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
- The development of tolerance. As your body becomes accustomed to the presence of alcohol, it will become difficult for you to achieve the same effect with the same doses. As tolerance builds up, you’ll find that you need to drink more and more to catch the same buzz.
- Withdrawal symptoms. If you’re drinking to the point that you feel uncomfortable when you’re not drinking, you’re probably experiencing alcohol withdrawal. This happens when your body is unable to function properly without alcohol.
- Physical health problems. Alcohol is toxic to the body and can lead to a number of physical health problems. If you notice yourself feeling aches, pains, or having digestive issues, this is a sign that you’re drinking too much.
- Problems with balance and coordination. If you’re drinking all the time, these problems can become semi-permanent.
Alcohol withdrawal is the term used to describe the symptoms that someone experiences when they stop drinking after developing a dependence. These symptoms can range in intensity from quite mild to very serious and potentially fatal. Here are some examples of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Shaking and sweating
- Mood instability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hallucinations and delusions
If you or someone that you love are trying to stop drinking, it’s important that you don’t simply stop immediately. Doing this can send your body into shock and cause you to have seizures.
What To Do if You Are Addicted to Alcohol
If you think that you or a loved one are addicted to alcohol, don’t worry. There are a number of solutions. Here are some examples of things that can help with the issue.
1. Find a Good Support Network
Many people don’t open up about their problems with alcohol because they’re afraid of being judged or ostracized. However, this can make the problem even more difficult because feeling isolated causes further feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, which are all triggers for alcoholism in the first place.
Finding a new support group isn’t always easy. However, there are lots of things that can help you with this.
- You can find a group of people who enjoy similar hobbies such as you
- Take up a new sport or start engaging with locals at a community facility
- Try to meet people online through dating or friend-finding platforms
2. Practice New Hobbies and Activities
Boredom is one of the main causes of addiction. If you are trying to stop drinking but find yourself getting bored, it’s all too easy to turn back to the bottle.
One of the best ways to counteract this is to make sure that you have fun and enjoyable activities that you can fill your time with.
Consider taking up a musical instrument, learning a new game to play with other people, or doing some other sort of creative pursuit. Fulfilling activities trigger the same dopamine response that you get when you’re using alcohol.
3. Go to Rehab
Rehab is a specific program designed to help people learn the skills and tools that they need to enjoy life sober.
During a rehab program, you will connect with a counselor or a therapist who will help you understand the root cause of your addiction. They will also help you learn how to manage in social situations and tackle your responsibilities without feeling like you need to rely on alcohol.
Rehab is strongly recommended for people who have serious alcohol addictions because of the potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Get Help If You Need It
Despite the fact that alcohol is one of the most popular and commonly-used drugs on the planet, it remains one of the most dangerous and addictive. Alcohol can create serious physical and psychological dependence and the withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous.
If you think that you or one of your loved ones are struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s not too late to seek help. There are many options for people who are interested in breaking free from the grip of alcohol. Call us today at 888.292.9652 to begin treatment.