Alcoholism is a complex and multi-faceted disease that affects people from all walks of life. While some people are able to consume alcohol in moderation without any adverse effects, others get addicted to alcohol. According to recent statistics, 9,641 people died from alcohol-specific causes in the UK in the year 2021. This figure highlights the severity of the alcohol addiction problem in the country. Despite the widespread knowledge of the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption, many people still struggle with addiction.
Why is alcohol addictive?
Here are the three major reasons why alcohol is addictive:
The Neurological Basis of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol affects the brain in a way that makes it hard to resist the temptation to drink more. The brain has a reward system that releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure, when we engage in activities that are pleasurable or beneficial to our survival, such as eating and sex. Alcohol consumption activates this system, which results in a pleasurable sensation. The more alcohol one consumes, the more dopamine is released, leading to an intense feeling of euphoria.
The Brain’s Adaptation to Alcohol
This feeling of euphoria is what many people seek when they drink. However, over time, the brain adapts to the constant release of dopamine and reduces its sensitivity to it. This means that to achieve the same level of pleasure, one needs to consume more alcohol. This creates a cycle of addiction, where the individual drinks more to achieve the same level of pleasure and, as a result, get addicted to alcohol.
Alcohol as a Sedative
Another reason why alcohol is addictive is that it is a depressant. Alcohol consumption slows down the central nervous system, which results in a relaxed, sedative effect. This effect can be addictive to some people, especially those who are struggling with anxiety or stress. The sedative effect of alcohol can provide temporary relief from anxiety or stress, leading to repeated consumption to experience the same effect. This can result in the development of alcoholism, making alcohol rehabnecessary.
Signs of Alcoholism
It is important to note that not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction. However, some people are more susceptible to developing alcoholism due to genetic, environmental, or other factors. Some of the signs that may indicate that an individual is struggling with alcoholism include:
- Increased tolerance to alcohol
As the tolerance level increases, the individual needs to consume more alcohol to feel the same level of sedative effect. This can lead to a cycle of addiction, where the individual drinks more and more to achieve the same level of pleasure, increasing their risk of developing alcoholism.
- Withdrawal symptoms
Another sign of alcoholism is withdrawal symptoms. When the individual stops drinking, they may experience symptoms such as tremors, sweating, nausea, and anxiety. These symptoms occur because the body has become dependent on alcohol to function normally, and sudden withdrawal can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and require medical supervision to manage.
- Drinking alone or in secret
The individual may isolate themselves to drink, which can be a sign that they are hiding their drinking habits from others. Drinking alone or in secret can also be a sign that the individual is ashamed or embarrassed about their drinking, which can lead to feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.
- Neglecting responsibilities
Another sign that a person is addicted to alcohol is neglecting responsibilities. The individual may neglect their responsibilities at work or home, leading to negative consequences. For example, they may miss work or school, neglect household chores or bills, or fail to meet their obligations to their family or friends. Neglecting responsibilities can lead to strained relationships, financial problems, and legal issues.
If you or any of your known ones is struggling with alcoholism, seeking help as soon as possible is important. Alcoholism can have severe physical and mental health consequences, and it can be challenging to overcome without professional help.
Alcohol addiction is a severe problem in the UK, with many people struggling to overcome the cycle of addiction. Alcohol rehab can go a long way when it comes to helping a person overcome alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction treatment involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. Medications can help reduce the craving for alcohol and manage withdrawal symptoms. Therapy can help the individual identify and address the underlying issues that may have contributed to their addiction. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can provide a sense of community and accountability that can be helpful in maintaining sobriety.