Alcohol can be found in common social settings, including bars, restaurants, homes, and even work parties. So many Americans use alcohol as a crutch. Reports indicate that after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, alcohol sales increased by 54% compared to the year before. Our consumption seems to be more excessive than ever. Jokes about using alcohol to cope after a long workday are extensive. We use it to lower our inhibitions, relax our minds, and have a good time. Social anecdotes aside, the more you drink alcohol the more you put yourself at risk for developing alcohol addiction. Depending on your genetics, you or your loved one may also be more susceptible to developing an addiction to alcohol.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, clinically known as alcohol use disorder and commonly referred to as alcoholism, is a chemical dependency upon alcohol. An addiction is a result of an individual’s building a tolerance to a substance, meaning that it takes more of the substance to achieve its desired effect. Soon, it takes drinking more alcohol to achieve the desired outcomes, such as lowered inhibitions, feelings of relaxation, giddiness, happiness, and drunkenness.
As tolerance to alcohol is built, you will find that it is hard to control how much you drink. Once you have reached a higher tolerance of alcohol, you begin to become dependent on alcohol, meaning that you need it to get through the day. Soon, you become addicted to the effects of alcohol. When you’re addicted to alcohol, stopping drinking may cause you painful and difficult withdrawal symptoms. If you think you may be dependent on alcohol, you most likely drink every day, and if you miss a drink, you experience emotional and physical discomfort.
Is Alcohol Addiction a Choice or a Disease?
Although the choice to drink excessively can lead to alcohol addiction, addiction in and of itself is not a choice--it is a disease. According to drugfree.org, “Like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, psychological, environmental and biological factors. Genetic risk factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction.” Someone with an alcohol addiction has little to no control over how much and how often they consume the substance. Individuals who struggle with an alcohol addiction feel like they need the substance to make it through the day, and are unable to completely stop using the substance on their own.
Can Someone With an Alcohol Addiction Be Blamed for Their Disease?
In short, no! There are many contributing factors to alcohol addiction, including genetics, environment, and behavioral choices. One individual can have a stronger predisposition toward alcohol than another individual. In addition, different people’s bodies and brains respond to substances differently. Once an addiction develops, it is nearly impossible for a person to control it without professional help. “People do not choose how their brain and body respond to substances, which is why people with addiction cannot control their use while others can. People with addiction can still stop using substances — it’s just much harder than it is for someone who has not become addicted. People with addiction should not be blamed for having a disease, but rather be able to get quality, evidence-based care to address it.” Alcohol addiction is a serious behavioral health condition that will negatively impact your life and the lives of those around you. If left untreated, alcohol addiction can prove isolating, and even life-threatening.
If You Don’t Treat Alcohol Addiction
Without the appropriate level of treatment, those who struggle with an alcohol addiction may be
subject to a variety of harmful effects. An addiction to alcohol can destroy your health, ruin your
relationships, and steal your joy. It is imperative that you seek treatment if you believe that you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol. Through treatment, you can avoid future damage and begin living the healthy life you have always wanted.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
There are various mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Mental symptoms of alcohol use disorder include memory problems, inability to focus, mood swings, outbursts of anger, dramatic changes in confidence, anxiety, and constantly thinking about alcohol. Physical symptoms of alcohol include slurred speech, bloodshot or watery eyes, changes in appetite, weight gain or loss, impaired coordination, and increased or decreased energy levels. Behavioral symptoms include spending a lot of your money on alcohol, getting regularly intoxicated, needing alcohol to make it through the day, being the only person to drink in a social setting, drinking at inappropriate times, and withdrawing from friends and family.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
According to drinkaware.com, the following are signs you may have an addiction to alcohol:
Seeking treatment for alcohol addiction is a brave first step in your journey to recovery. At SokyaHealth, we are your biggest advocates for a healthier and happier you. We recognize the immense courage it takes to admit you have a problem and to seek professional care for alcohol addiction. If you are in the California, Oregon, and Alaska regions and seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder, SokyaHealth may be right for you. We provide comprehensive, compassionate mental health and wellness services to children, adolescents, and adults. We offer a variety of treatment options for individuals struggling with addictions. If you seek treatment for alcohol addiction at SokyaHealth, you will have intentional treatment options, guided by empathetic, kind, and compassionate staff members who are committed to walking by your side every step of your treatment journey. Call us at (866) 657-6592 to schedule a free consultation.