Alcohol is a mood-altering substance, and alcohol addiction affects roughly 14 million American adults every year. Cultural acceptance of alcohol use and even misuse has led many to underestimate its adverse effects. Alcohol-related incidents are the third leading preventable cause of death in the US, killing 88,000 people per year. Treatment for alcoholism often includes detox (supervised for safety) followed by the rehabilitation process, which involves therapeutic intervention, community support, and life skills training.
What Causes Alcohol Addiction (Alcoholism)?
What causes alcohol addiction? Alcohol is a depressant drug, so alcohol addiction occurs much in the same way as drug addiction. Alcohol ingestion spurs the release of dopamine in the brain, a feel-good chemical which reinforces the sense of reward for consuming alcohol. As greater amounts of alcohol are consumed, an individual becomes tolerant to alcohol’s effects, but his or her body becomes more chemically dependent on alcohol in order to experience the sense of euphoria and relief of anxiety or pain. Continuous overuse of alcohol disrupts the body’s ability to function properly, damaging the brain and internal organs, just as other drugs do.
Some individuals may be predisposed to alcoholism based on their body chemistry and learned behaviors from loved ones who are addicted to alcohol. Many people use alcohol to self-medicate mental health conditions, ease pain, or relieve uncomfortable feelings. Stress, depression, and anxiety commonly compel excessive alcohol use, though alcohol may worsen these conditions and create more problems. People often turn to alcohol and other drugs as a solution for their pain, not because they are seeking another problem — though addiction can easily set in and cause a great deal of physical, emotional, and mental health issues.
Common Sign and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
What are common signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?
Here are some common signs and symptoms that an individual may be suffering from alcohol addiction:
- Regularly seeks out drinking events or seems constantly in pursuit of alcohol
- Suffers withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use stops (aches, tremors, delirium, restlessness, nausea or vomiting, insomnia, sweating)
- Experiences the loss of a job or relationship based on alcohol use
- Jokes about addiction or denies the idea of alcohol misuse
- Mood swings and sudden flares of temper
- Becomes physically or verbally abusive
- Suicidal ideation and increase in risk-taking behaviors
- Has a high tolerance for drinking large quantities of alcohol
If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs of alcohol addiction, please get in touch with our team today. We can guide you in determining your best next steps and help you get started on the path to recovery.
Some individuals who drink heavily at times or participate in binge drinking may not meet the criteria for alcoholism. Binge drinking is classified as drinking five or more units of alcohol (for men) or four or more drinks (for women) within a two hour period. Binge drinking does not necessarily indicate an alcohol addiction, but a pattern of binge drinking can result in addiction. According to the CDC, one in six US adults participates in binge drinking four times a month.
Some alcoholics may be skilled at hiding their behavior from others. Functional alcoholism is a type of alcohol addiction where the individual does not seem to be adversely affected by his or her alcohol use – maintaining a home or a job, keeping a relationship, etc. But if the individual experiences withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is stopped or exhibits erratic or abusive behavior, he or she may very well have an alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Addiction Facts
According to the NIAAA:
- In 2010, the cost of alcohol misuse in the US totaled $249 billion.
- More than 10% of American children live with a parent with alcohol problems.
- In 2012, 3.3 million deaths globally could be attributed to alcohol-related consumption.
- In 2014, 31% of driving fatalities were a result of alcohol impairment.
- In 2018, 4.3 million people reported binge drinking in the last month.
- In 2018, nearly 50% of all liver disease deaths involved alcohol.
- Roughly 20% of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
Adverse Effects of Binge Drinking and Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol use is often perceived as safe and fun, but overuse and misuse can have serious consequences. Here are some of the adverse effects of binge drinking and alcohol addiction:
- Alcohol-related traffic fatalities
- Domestic violence and sexual assault
- Unintended pregnancy
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease
- Various types of cancer
- The spread of sexually transmitted diseases
Tragic outcomes from alcohol misuse are preventable, and healing is possible for those with alcohol addiction. Those seeking to recover from alcoholism can best do so through a residential or outpatient treatment program. Alcohol detox is much safer when supervised by consulting physicians since symptoms can be severe, even life-threatening. After detox, the process of mind, body, and spirit healing can begin. With therapeutic intervention and support, those who have suffered from alcohol addiction can lead healthy, sustainable lives in recovery.
Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment through BeWell Network
BeWell Network is a family of evidence-based residential and outpatient treatment centers. We help individuals suffering from addiction find the path to recovery, offering customized treatment experiences for the restoration of the mind, body, and spirit. If you or a loved one is seeking help for alcohol addiction, please get in touch with our team today. We can assess your situation and recommend treatment options, verifying your benefits for free. We have a no-hassle billing process and are committed to providing treatment designed specially for you.