How Does Alcohol Become Addictive
Alcohol consumption is usually a social activity. People drink because their friends, coworkers, and family are drinking. Therein lies the problem Drinking produces a sort of high that we begin craving. Whether its the feeling of fitting in, being the center of attention, forgetting about their problems for a while, or simply numbing any pain you feel, those feelings can become addictive.
The more you feed into these feelings by drinking, the higher your tolerance levels get. This begins a vicious cycle of needing more and more alcohol to reach the level that youre used to.
Why Do People Turn To Alcohol
While most people enjoy an occasional glass of wine with dinner or a beer while watching the football, for some, alcohol is something that is used to make them feel better. Some individuals drink alcohol to dull the pain of a previous traumatic experience or to help them forget things that they are stressed out about.
Alcohol is a depressant that affects the body in many ways. Some people find that when they drink alcohol, they can relax, and it helps them to temporarily forget the things that are bothering them. However, if it gets to the point that alcohol is required for the person to be able to cope or function, then it is time to get help.
Why Do We Care In The First Place
Its natural for us as human beings to be curious about the underlying causes of health issues so we can treat and when possible, prevent negative outcomes. But its also important to note that with new studies in addiction literature being published all the time, the way we conceptualize and understand the condition needs to be adoptive and flexible in order to remain relevant. Different theories come and go as our collective understanding of addiction becomes more comprehensive and integrative. Scholars who study addiction have taken particular interest in etiology the study of cause, or manner of causation of a disease or condition as this dictates the direction of future treatment methods, allowing us to effectively reach more people in need.
Recommended Reading: How Long To Get Over Nicotine Addiction
Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Dont
Lets suppose that two people consume alcohol at the same rate over time. Its possible that one person may become addicted while the other does not, but why? The simple answer to this question is: there is no straightforward answer. Some may find this response frustrating, as it may not satiate their need for certainty. One thing we have learned from advancements in technology and subsequent findings in neurobiology is that addiction is a much more intricate and convoluted condition than we once thought, but there are some clues that can help us anticipate who may become addicted.
What Are Substance Abuse And Addiction
The difference between substance abuse and addiction is very slight. Substance abuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Addiction begins as abuse, or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine.
You can abuse a drug without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara smoked pot a few times doesn’t mean that she has an addiction, but it does mean that she’s abusing a drug and that could lead to an addiction.
People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medicines, cigarettes, even glue.
Some substances are more addictive than others: Drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control.
Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who’s addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.
Recommended Reading: Where Does Addiction Come From
The Difference Between Addiction And Dependence
The terms addiction and dependence are often confused or used interchangeably. While there is some overlap, its important to understand the major differences between the 2.
A dependence is present when users develop a physical tolerance to a substance. They may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug altogether. Usually a dependency is resolved by slowly tapering off the use of a particular substance.
On the other hand, an addiction occurs when extensive drug or alcohol use has caused a persons brain chemistry to change. Addictions manifest themselves as uncontrollable cravings to use drugs, despite the harm done to oneself or others. The only way to overcome an addiction is through treatment.
Underlying Causes Of Addiction
Chronic stress. Many people use drugs or alcohol to reduce stress. People who suffer from chronic stress related to family dysfunction, financial problems, a demanding job, a medical illness, or another source may engage in heavy substance abuse, which can lead to addiction.
A history of trauma. Survivors of trauma, including physical and sexual abuse, are likely to use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to reduce fear and anxiety, suppress difficult memories, and cope with insomnia and nightmares that may follow a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which often occurs following a trauma, is a common risk factor for substance abuse and addiction.
Family dysfunction. Unhealthy relationships and a dysfunction household can lead to substance abuse and addiction, especially in cases of abusive relationships. Family dysfunction and the chronic stress that comes with it are another important risk factor for substance abuse.
Read Also: Is Ativan Addictive In Small Doses
How Does Alcoholism Affect The Brain
Alcohol negatively impacts the brain areas that control balance, memory, speech, and judgment, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other adverse outcomes.
Alcoholism also affects the brains reward center and produces pleasurable sensations when consumed.
Long-term, heavy drinking causes alterations in brain neurons and permanently damages brain processes and functions.
A developing brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Misuse of alcohol during adolescence and early adulthood can alter the brain’s development, resulting in long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.3
Recognizing And Understanding Addiction
Identifying an SUD can be a complicated process. While some signs of addiction are obvious, others are more difficult to recognize. Many people who realize they have a problem will try to hide it from family and friends, making it harder to tell whether someone is struggling.
Television, media, and film often depict people with SUDs as criminals or individuals with moral shortcomings. The truth is, theres no single face of addiction. Anyone can develop patterns of abuse or risky behaviors, no matter their age, culture, or financial status.
Recommended Reading: Do Opiate Addicts Ever Recover
How To Help A Family Member Suffering From Alcoholism
Once youve identified that a friend or family member is struggling with an alcohol dependency, the next natural step is to try and help them, and although the decision to actively treat the disease ultimately comes from the person suffering from it, there are some steps you can take to help direct them onto the right path.
Firstly, try to learn and understand a little more about the illness. Alcoholism is more than just drinking too much, and as noted above, there are numerous underlying issues which may have triggered the condition. Knowing what some of these triggers are can help you identify and also help the individual identify what the underlying cause of their alcohol dependency is.
Secondly, you need to decide where and when to discuss alcoholism with the person afflicted, but also what you want to say. Its important to avoid being hurtful or negative and let them know that the person means a lot to you, and thats why youve opened this line of communication.
Its then important that you listen to what the individual has to say. The person may be in denial, but taking in what they respond can help you potentially uncover the cause or trigger of their alcoholism.
Thirdly, if the individual agrees, a pathway to treatment can be set in place. This could range from an intervention to a detox-style addiction therapy designed to treat the underlying cause of their alcoholism for good.
New Insights Into A Common Problem
Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. Consider the latest government statistics:
- Nearly 23 million Americansalmost one in 10are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
- More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol.
- The top three drugs causing addiction are marijuana, opioid pain relievers, and cocaine.
In the 1930s, when researchers first began to investigate what caused addictive behavior, they believed that people who developed addictions were somehow morally flawed or lacking in willpower. Overcoming addiction, they thought, involved punishing miscreants or, alternately, encouraging them to muster the will to break a habit.
The scientific consensus has changed since then. Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behavior.
Affordable Online Therapy for Addiction
Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
Need urgent help? .
Also Check: How Often Do Heroin Addicts Use
Why Do People Become Addicted To Alcohol As Teenagers
Have you noticed that some people are social drinkers, never get drunk, and dont become alcoholics? Other people cant control their drinking, and it ruins their physical and mental health. Why do people become addicted to alcohol? The answer to the question is complex and involves a combination of genetic, physiological, psychological and social factors.
Individualized Treatment Is Essential
The question of why some become addicted and others dont isnt easy to answer, because everyone develops an addiction differently. The most important thing to note is that professional help is essential for long-term recovery, and since no two individuals addictions are alike, no two individuals treatment plans should be the same.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that just as there is no single pathway to addiction, there is no single pathway to recovery. Regardless of why someone becomes addicted, an individualized treatment plan is essential for the best possible outcome of treatment.
NA/AA DISCLAIMER: This Site is not affiliated with Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. The information on this Site is provided for informational purposes only. If there are any discrepancies of times, dates, or locations of meetings, please contact us so we can update the information as we strive to keep the information as current as possible.
Also Check: What Percentage Of Heroin Addicts Relapse
Why Does Being Drunk Feel Good
That aspect seems to stem from the fact that alcohol increases activity in the dopamine neurons in the mesolimbic reward pathway, as well as opioid cells that release endorphins. Both produce feelings of joy, pleasure, euphoria, depending on the type of activation. Thats why drinking can be so pleasurable.
Alcohol And Other Drugs
Because it is so common in todays culture, alcohol is often abused alongside other drugs. As a CNS Depressant, alcohol poses a serious risk when mixed with other drugs of the same class like Benzodiazepines and some Painkillers. Alcohol on its own can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can quickly prove lethal.
Don’t Miss: Can You Have An Addictive Personality
Get Help For Teen Addiction In Tx From Fort Behavioral Health
Teen alcohol addiction disrupts the lives of the entire family. Get help for your teenager from Fort Behavioral Health. This facility provides a variety of addiction treatment options, including our female-only adolescent treatment program. Start the process of getting your teen help for alcohol addiction by phoning Fort Behavioral Health at . Taking this first step toward moving your teen toward recovery could help her to avoid a future of alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Addiction And Abuse
Start the road to recovery
Get confidential help 24/7. Call now for:
- Access to top treatment centers
- Caring, supportive guidance
Addiction Center is not affiliated with any insurance.
Common Questions About Rehab
Am I covered for addiction treatment?
Have a confidential, completely free conversation with a treatment provider about your financial options.
Recommended Reading: How To Help People With Addiction
The Addictive Factors In Alcohol And Why It Prompts Alcohol And Drug Rehab
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in America today, but exactly what makes alcohol addictive? According to the NCADD, 17.6 million people in the United States suffer from alcohol dependence or chronic alcohol abuse. Thats about one in twelve adults, with many more engaging in unhealthy binge drinking habits that can develop into alcoholism.
If you have witnessed someone deal with alcohol use disorder, you know finding a way to help can be challenging. The truth is, people drink for different reasons, so there is not one single solution treatment that works for one patient may not work for another. Ultimately, both physical and psychological addictive factors come into play when overcoming addiction.
What Makes Alcohol Addictive: Physical vs Psychological Factors
Drinking alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins within the brain. These are the chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and act as a natural painkiller. Studies have shown that genetic factors come into play when determining how alcohol reacts in the brains of different people. Specifically, some peoples brains released more pleasure chemicals in response to alcohol, making them more susceptible to physical dependency.
People who are addicted to alcohol and suddenly stop drinking undergo a detoxification process that can have a number of physical and psychological symptoms. These include:
Alcoholism And The Brain
Mitchell says the findings could lead to better versions of the existing alcohol abuse drug naltrexone, which blocks the opioid response and blunts alcohol cravings in some, but not all people.
Mitchell says a better understanding of the specific endorphin receptors involved in the alcohol high could lead to treatments that better target these reward centers. Currently, naltrexone takes more of a buckshot approach, affecting multiple receptors. This research could lead to more focused medications.
The University of California study included 13 people who identified themselves as heavy drinkers and 12 people who did not.
Using PET imaging, the researchers were able to measure opioid release in the brain before and immediately after the study participants drank the same amount of alcohol.
Drinking alcohol was found to be associated with opioid release in the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex — two areas of the brain associated with reward processing.
The study appears in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Help An Addict
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.
Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse Reversible
Most individuals with an alcohol use disorder who experience brain or cognitive troubles will recover with treatment within a year of sobriety. In some instances, it can take much longer. The outcome of recovery and sustained sobriety depends on a host of medical, personal, and physiological factors. The first step in recovery from an alcohol use disorder is seeking treatment from a rehab center that offers exemplary clinical services and compassionate care.
You May Like: How To Control Food Addiction
Symptoms Of Alcohol Use Disorder
In the United States, 18 million adults have an alcohol use disorder .
You may have an AUD if you have experienced two or more of the following in the past year:
- Drinking more or for longer than planned
- Being unable to cut down or stop drinking
- Spending excessive time drinking or recovering from drinking
- Feeling a strong need to drink
- Drinking or being sick from drinking that interfered with life or responsibilities
- Drinking despite it causing relationship problems
- Giving up or cutting back on activities in favor of drinking
- Getting into dangerous situations while or after drinking
- Drinking even though it caused health problems
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol’s effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms 7
The Prevalence Of Alcohol Abuse And Drunk Driving
One of the most troubling behavioral signs of an alcohol use disorder is drunk driving. The well-known nonprofit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving publishes reliable statistics on drunk driving.
- In 2013, 28.7 million Americans reported that they drove after drinking.
- In 2014, 9,967 Americans died in car crashes that involved alcohol. This statistic translates to a fatal car crash every 53 minutes in the US. Thats about 27 fatalities each day.
- In 2014, about 290,000 Americans were injured in a car accident that involved drinking. This statistic translates to a car accident injury every two minutes.
- On average, a person will drive drunk 80 times before being arrested for the first time.
If you or someone you know are showing signs of being drunk, do not let them get behind the wheel.
Also Check: How Can Rehab Help Drug Addicts