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Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction affects people from all walks of life; young and old, rich and poor. When a person develops an alcohol addiction problem they find that they can no longer function without feeling the overwhelming urge to drink. For example, when a non-addicted person experiences a difficult situation they will dig deep and rely on their inner strength and the support of those around them to push through. However, when a person who is addicted to alcohol finds themselves in a difficult spot they will turn to alcohol as a way to escape from their problems. This only puts off handling their problems until later and often makes mountains out of molehills because of not handling their issues in a timely manner.

There are many reasons why one person develops an alcohol addiction and another one doesn’t. Of course, regular ingestion of alcohol is the primary factor in creating an alcohol addiction problem. However, drinking alcohol is not in and of itself what constitute an alcohol addiction problem. Each person’s risk for developing a problem with alcohol varies based on the frequency, quantity and regularity of their alcohol consumption. Another factor in developing problems with alcohol includes the individual’s biological mechanisms as well as their emotional health, social environment and genetic predisposition towards addictive behavior.

The majority of alcohol addiction problems develop slowly over time. As the person continues to drink their ability to discern whether they want or need a drink becomes blurry. Their body has adapted to having alcohol present and doesn’t feel “normal” without it. There are also changes taking place in the addict’s brain. Their brain begins to become wired to expect alcohol and their judgment of right and wrong becomes compromised.   Addicts typically do not see the destruction that alcohol abuse causes their life until it is too late and they need help to stop drinking.

Here in the United States it is estimated that 10% of men and 3% of women struggle with alcohol addiction problems. A majority of alcoholics suffer great emotional and physical problems due to their drinking but continue to use alcohol. They develop problems in their personal lives with those who love them, problems with employers who become fed up with their deteriorating work performance and problems with their education due to skipped classes or failed exams. Physically, there are countless health problems that alcohol addiction causes. The most well-known include alcoholic dementia, increased chance of cancer, nutritional deficiencies, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, polyneuropathy, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, and death.

You may be wondering if you or a loved one has an alcohol addiction problem. Here are a few key questions to consider. Answering yes to several of these should raise a red flag and indicates problems with alcohol.

  • Feeling the need to be secretive about your drinking.
  • Using alcohol as an escape from daily problems.
  • Drinking alcohol at times you have other responsibilities.
  • Loved ones are speaking to you about your alcohol consumption.
  • Getting drunk each time you drink alcohol. Finding that you cannot have “just one drink.”
  • Alcohol abuse related health problems.
  • Feeling as though you need alcohol to have a good time.
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms (shaking, irritability, etc.).
  • Repeatedly making the decision to stop drinking and not being able to follow through.

Unfortunately, for some addicts problems with alcohol can be a lifelong battle. The overwhelming cravings and urges often give way to relapse even after long periods of sobriety. They find themselves in and out of detox and rehab programs hoping that this time it will really work for them. Here are some key points to change when finally making the decision end your alcohol addiction.

To truly recover from alcohol addiction you need to make monumental changes in your life. This often means disconnecting with past drinking buddies. Choosing to surround yourself with others who are likeminded in their sobriety can go a long way in maintaining what you accomplished. Your next change is finding new hobbies and ways to spend your time now that they are sober. This may seem like a small or insignificant item but minutes and hours can seem long when the craving and desire to drink comes on. Having a structured schedule will help in making sure that you stay busy and away from alcohol. Lastly, utilizing support from your friends and family when you feel weak and vulnerable will help you maintain your sobriety and bring you closer to those who care about you.

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  • Alcohol Facts
  • More than 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol-related liver disease.
  • One in 9 who drink will be an alcoholic. Alcohol increases the concentration of dopamine and serotonin, feel-good chemicals, it disturbs levels of glutamate, which can make people feel high, and it interferes with other chemicals that can make people tired.
  • Long-term heavy drinking can lead to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis can cause severe abdominal pain and can be fatal. Chronic pancreatitis is associated with chronic pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.
  • Pregnant women who drink risk having babies with fetal alcohol syndrome.