What Does Alcohol Do To Us When We Drink It
Alcohol is a very simple chemical that can bring about big changes in the complex functions of the human brain. When we drink alcohol, it triggers the release of other chemicals in the body that make us feel more content and less sensitive to pain. So, it is no surprise that once we start drinking, we often want to carry on.
For some of us, alcohol becomes something we carry on consuming even though the negative consequences are plain to see.
Why Is Alcohol Addictive For Some People And Not Others
Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are common in the United States. Nearly 6% of American adults and 2% of American adolescents suffer from an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse claims an estimated 88,000 American lives annually. In 2010, it cost the nation $249 billion dollars. Despite these health and economic consequences, less than 7% of American adults and 6% of American adolescents received treatment for their disease. These facts beg the question: why is alcohol addictive?
Helping A Friend With Addiction
If you’re worried about a friend who has an addiction, you can use these tips to help him or her. For example, let your friend know that you are available to talk or offer your support. If you notice a friend backsliding, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help.
If your friend is going back to drugs or drinking and won’t accept your help, don’t be afraid to talk to a nonthreatening, understanding adult, like your parent or school counselor. It may seem like you’re ratting your friend out, but it’s the best support you can offer.
Above all, offer a friend who’s battling an addiction lots of encouragement and praise. It may seem corny, but hearing that you care is just the kind of motivation your friend needs.
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Environment And Personal Experiences
If you grow up in a household where alcohol is readily available and is consumed when something negative happens, you may learn to drink in order to feel better. If youre around people who drink often and pressure you to drink, this can lead to increased alcohol consumption as well.
Everyone reacts differently to their personal experiences and environment. One person who grew up around large amounts of alcohol might become an alcoholic, while another might swear off alcohol for life. Still, life experiences and surroundingsincluding adverse childhood experiences and other traumatic eventscan play a role in whether you become addicted to alcohol.
Why Is Alcohol Addictive Study Offers Clues
Research Could Lead to More Focused Medications for Heavy Drinkers
Jan. 11, 2012 — We know alcohol makes many people feel good, and that it affects the brain, but new research goes a step further by tightening the focus on areas of the brain most likely affected by alcohol.
Investigators say they have identified specific differences in how the so-called reward center of the brain responds to alcohol in heavy and light drinkers.
In both groups, drinking alcohol caused the release of naturally occurring feel-good opioids known as endorphins in two key brain regions associated with reward processing.
But heavy drinkers released more endorphins in response to alcohol, and they reported feeling more intoxicated than the lighter drinkers after drinking the same amount of alcohol. Learn more about the effects of alcohol on the brain.
The findings suggest that people whose brains release more natural opioids in response to alcohol may get more pleasure out of drinking and may be more likely to drink too much and become alcoholics, researcher Jennifer M. Mitchell, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, says.
Greater endorphin release was associated with more hazardous drinking, Mitchell says. We believe this is an important step in understanding where and how alcohol acts in the brain.
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Does Alcohol Affect Creativity
The idea that altered forms of consciousness such as mania or alcohol can enhance creativity is a popular belief. And it turns out theres some evidence for that idea. Researchers found that participants who had a few drinks were better and faster at creative problem solving than their sober counterparts. The reason may be that alcohol tamps down working memory and therefore sparks people to think outside the box.
How Drugs Affect The Brain
When people begin using drugs, the way the brain functions begins to change.
Drugs have an effect on the way the brain communicates, and they can affect the way nerve cells send, receive, and interpret information.
Drugabuse.gov states that there are two ways this disruption of the brain can happen:
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The Top Reasons Why People Become Alcoholics
Although nobody purposefully becomes an alcoholic, millions of people battle alcohol use disorder. When someone abuses alcohol, they might drink in excess. This eventually has negative impacts on brain chemistry leading to addiction. The chemical changes from long term alcohol abuse result in a person developing both physical and psychological dependence. As a result, virtually anyone can become an alcoholic if they continue to abuse it over long periods of time.
However, in addition to chronic drinking, there are many components that make one person more likely to abuse alcohol than another. While having one or more of these risk factors puts an individual at a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder, being aware of them can help prevent engaging in unhealthy behaviors that lead to alcoholism. Here are the most common reasons why people become alcoholics.
What Is Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can appear through many signs and symptoms.
If you feel like drinking is the only way to wind down or release stress, if you are unable to control how much you drink, or if you feel the need to drink more alcohol to achieve the buzz you need are all examples of being addicted.
Some addicts want to drink or catch a buzz before attending parties or events. They think this will help them socialize better. And if they cant drink ahead of time, they avoid going altogether.
Some who are dependent on alcohol find reasons to drink during the day or night, they feel withdrawal symptoms when trying to not drink, or they continue to drink even though it causes rifts in relationships or interferes with working and completing other responsibilities.
Alcohol abuse disorder develops over time, and it is the brain that encourages someone to become addicted.
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Can Drug Addiction Be Cured Or Prevented
As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isnt a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patients drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.
More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.
Wheres The Line Between Heavy Drinking And Alcoholism
If the drinking world is conceptualized as a spectrum, normal social drinking is one on end and alcohol use disorder is on the other end. But theres a large gray area in the middle, in which drinking can cause problems for someones health, job, or loved ones, but not to a clinical extent. An example would be a father who falls asleep on the couch after having several drinks three or four days a week, missing out on time with his kids and wife. Another would be a college student who repeatedly has trouble making it to class because she was drunk the night before. These individuals, sometimes called almost alcoholics, may not see the connection at first but would often benefit from help and support.
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Why Do People Become Alcoholics
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If you have a loved one who is suffering from alcoholism, you might wonder why some people become alcoholics and others can drink with impunity. After all, some people can have a glass of wine at dinner at night while others cant stop drinking after theyve had one. What is it that makes some people more susceptible to alcoholism than others?
The truth is, there are a variety of reasons why some people become alcoholics and others dont. Ultimately, alcoholism develops as a result of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. However, some people dont experience any risk factors, yet still, have a drinking problem. In the end, alcoholism doesnt discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life. That being said, lets take a look at some of the most common reasons why people get addicted to alcohol.
What Is Drug Addiction
Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted persons self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” diseasepeople in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.
It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesnt work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.
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What Steps Can I Take To Curb My Drinking On My Own
Some people prefer to try cutting back or quitting on their own before committing time and money to rehab. And there are a few approaches that can identify and combat drinking at an early stage. People can focus on education and support, such as through Alcoholics Anonymous, or take on a sobriety challenge. People can learn mindfulness rather than trying to soothe uncomfortable feelings with alcohol, mindfulness encourages techniques such as breathing, visualization, and meditation.
In a clinical setting, motivational interviewing, which cultivates the drive to change behaviors, and Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral, and Treatment , which funnels patients to treatment, are also helpful options.
New Insights Into The Causes Of Addiction
Addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation. Although breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done.
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Addiction And The Brain
Excessive substance abuse affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When a person consumes a substance such as drugs or alcohol, the brain produces large amounts of dopamine this triggers the brains reward system. After repeated drug use, the brain is unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This means addicted people may struggle to find enjoyment in pleasurable activities, like spending time with friends or family, when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug dependency, its vital to seek treatment as soon as possible. All too often people try to get better on their own, but this can be difficult and in some cases dangerous.
Understanding Drug And Alcohol Addiction
Drug and alcohol addiction is described as a relapsing, chronic brain disease. It is characterized by obsessive drug seeking and misuse, in spite of harmful effects. It is regarded as a brain disease because these harmful substances can change the brains structure and how it works. These brain changes may be lifelong and result in harmful behaviors. Addiction can be compared to other diseases, like heart disease. Both disturb the healthy, normal functioning of the essential organs, are treatable and preventable and have severe harmful consequences. If not treated immediately, the addiction of a person to drugs and alcohol can last for a longer period of time.
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Drugs Have Serious Side Effects Especially To Our Mind
Usually, when an individual thinks of something, the mind is extremely fast and information comes quickly. But when you take drugs, your memory becomes blurry. This eventually leads to blank spots. You cannot get information with this cloudy mess. Drugs will make you feel stupid or slow and will cause you to have disappointments in life. And as you have more failures and difficulty in life, you have the initiation to take more drugs due to the belief that it will lessen your problem or help you manage the challenges you are struggling with.
Drinking At An Early Age
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to have an alcohol problem or a physical dependence on alcohol as they get older. Not only is this because drinking may become a comfortable habit, but also because the bodys tolerance levels may increase.
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Why Did I Become Addicted To Alcohol
Of course, all of the above may only tell you half of the story. If you find yourself struggling with alcohol, you may spend time trying to understand why am I an addict? While you should never beat yourself up for the past, it can sometimes help you deal with the issue more effectively if you understand how it developed for you, personally.
When I was young, alcohol was prevalent in my household. My mom allowed me to start drinking at a very young age, and she drank often. I dont believe that she is an alcoholic, but the fact that it was always allowed in my household made it seem like alcohol wasnt a big deal.
Many of my friends also started drinking at a young age, so the people I spent the most time with drank often, and again, it just seemed so normal. Before I knew it, I was using alcohol as a way to numb my feelings when they became too difficult to bear.
Before I knew it, I was using alcohol as a way to numb my feelings when they became too difficult to bear.
When my mom was going through a divorce, and when I was dealing with the effects of sexual assault, I quickly turned to drugs and alcohol, and found myself in increasingly dangerous situations. I suffered further abuse and trauma, which I now know was none of my fault. But it was hard for me to cope with these events without substances.
Why Do Teens And Young Adults Abuse Alcohol
Drinking alcohol commonly begins in the teenage years. Alcohol has become an alarmingly common component of teenage and college parties. Unfortunately, underage drinking is on the rise because many teens are not waiting until they reach the legal drinking age of twenty-one. Many adolescents regard alcohol consumption as just a way to have a good time and are unaware of the damaging effect it can have on themselves and how it might impact their families, their communities, and their futures. In fact, underage drinking is rightly regarded as a widespread public health concern.
How Many Teens are Drinking Alcohol?
Alcohol is the drug of choice for many high school students. The 2017 government Youth Risk Behavior Survey asked high schoolers about their alcohol consumption during the prior thirty days and published the following results:
- 33% had imbibed an alcoholic drink. This represents an increase since 2015 and reverses the downward trend of the previous decade. Among these students, about 50% drank on one or two days and 25% drank on three to five days.
- 17% had engaged in binge drinking at least once.
- 5% drank ten or more consecutive drinks within a couple of hours.
To read the full report on alcohol consumption by high school students, click here and scroll down to page 56. The alcohol statistics are taken from the national YRBS study.
What Causes Teens to Become Addicted to Alcohol?
What are the Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Teens and Young Adults?
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The Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act is a law that regulates legal and illegal drugs in the United States. Under the CSA, drugs are categorized into different schedules according to a drugs perceived danger and potential for dependence. For example, Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug because of its illegal status and extremely addictive qualities. Legal medications on the other hand, such as over-the-counter Painkillers and cough Suppressants, are categorized as Schedule V because of their low chances for abuse.
The CSAs drug scheduling system exists for several reasons. In common cases, the system is used by judges to help them determine sentences for drug-related crimes. It is also helpful for medical professionals when writing prescriptions.