UNDERSTANDING ALCOHOL ADDICTION

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Drunk girl in underwear lying drunk and glass of alcohol on the table

For a lot of people, having alcohol is just an enjoyable way to unwind and nothing more than that. Alcohol addicts drink in excess, thereby putting others and themselves in danger.

Moderate use of alcohol in adults means a glass of drink for women and elderly people and not more than two glasses for men, this is considered harmless. (A glass is referred to as 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits, or 12 ounces of beer, all these have nothing more than 0.5 ounces of alcohol).

However alcohol addicts are referred to people who have lost the control in moderating the amount of alcohol they drink. Regardless of the amount or type of alcohol consumed, alcohol addicts are unable to quit once they start drinking. And today, alcohol addiction is on the rise across the world.

Before proceeding further, let’s take a look at what addiction means, in order to have a better understanding of the word.

It is the recurring involvement with an activity or substance, not regarding the possible damage it can cause, because the user derives pleasure from it.”

Addiction can also be defined as a severe, relapsing brain disease, because frequent usage of the substance will provoke the urge to use more.

Alcohol addiction can be described as a mental health issue that has broad consequences for the users and their family members. When it is observed that drinking has become a problem, it is important the user is aware that help is available and it is possible to recover.

CAUSES OF ALCOHOL ADDICTION

Drinking problems can be caused by a number of things, ranging from physiological, genetic, social and psychological factors. It is important to note that not every person is affected in the same way and by the same factor. Some users could have psychological characteristics like low-self esteem, impulsiveness and the desire for approval. Environmental and social factors also come into play, such as peer pressure and easy access to alcohol.

A family history with alcohol problems doesn’t necessarily imply that the kids by default grow to have such problems. Nor does it mean that the absence of drinking issues in the family protects the children from developing such problems.

Once users engage in drinking extensively, the problem begins to develop, thereby causing physiological changes which make drinking the only way to escape discomfort. An addict will continue drinking in order to avoid having these withdrawal symptoms.

 HOW DO I KNOW A HEAVY DRINKER FROM AN ALCOHOLIC

A thin line exists in differentiating a heavy drinker and an alcoholic.

Below are the symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • The uncontrollable urge to drink
  • Gradually increasing the amount of drink with time
  • Experiencing emotional or physical withdrawal
  • Having a drink in the morning to steady your nerves
  • Making drinks the focus of one’s life
  • Concealing drink
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Lack of control
  • Drinking without regard to social/physical/financial problems

If you recognise one or more of these symptoms, there is likely a problem. It is important to get help straight away because an early intervention would be a great first step to recovery.

REASONS FOR DRINKING

One way to understand alcohol addiction is knowing the reasons why a person drinks. A lot of people drink just for drinking and the way they feel. Opioid-like transmitters are triggered in the brain, thereby causing a rise in the level of dopamine, which causes feelings of reward and relief. As the user keeps seeking these feelings, the drinking continues. This creates a tolerance for alcohol, which leads to the urge for increased intake.

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION

When the user has an alcohol dependency, any attempts to stop can lead to withdrawal. The effects of withdrawal include emotional agitation and anxiety, both of which can lead to chronic mental health issues such as depression.

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