Many people enjoy a drink without reaching an addiction. People who have developed a more serious problem with alcohol consumption may think that they are not addicted, after all, alcohol is a legal substance, easy to find for adults.
The line between having a drink as part of a social experience and having an addiction to alcoholic beverages is reduced to whether the drink is something you “have” to drink or is something you “want” to drink. A person who enjoys a drink controls his consumption and in the case of an alcoholic, the drink controls him.
- 1 What is alcohol addiction?
What is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a widespread disease that affects people of all social classes, ages and genders. Although experts have tried to identify the factors that can predispose a person to alcohol addiction, they have concluded that it does not have a singular cause and can affect anyone.
In the medical community, alcohol addiction has been considered a condition psychosomatic. This means that social, psychological, genetic and behavioral factors can contribute to the emergence of alcohol dependence. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is a real disease, and once addicted, an alcoholic may be physically unable to control his actions. Research has shown that addiction, including alcohol addiction, causes physical changes in the brain and in the neurochemistry of the addict.
Alcohol addiction can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The severity, frequency of use, or type of alcohol consumed varies from person to person. Some people can drink excessively throughout the day, while others drink for a period and then stay sober for a while. The type of alcohol consumed does not matter in the appearance of alcoholism.
Signs of alcohol dependence
The signs that alcohol consumption has become an addiction are:
- An increase in alcohol tolerance
- Difficulty stopping drinking, even when desired
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking
- Spend a lot of time thinking about drinking, drinking alcoholic beverages, or recovering from a drunkenness
- Experience negative consequences of drinking, such as difficulties in maintaining relationships, driving under the influence of alcohol, arrest for public consumption, or loss of employment, and continue drinking anyway
The causes of this dependence
There are several reasons why someone may become addicted to alcohol. The alcoholic may be looking for the “euphoria” that the drink gives him and must continue to drink large quantities to recreate that experience. Other people with alcohol dependence problems are looking for a way to deal with stress, personal problems, or emotional pain. It is no surprise that alcoholism tends to spread in a family, as we learn a lot about how to deal with the problems of our lives by seeing the way our parents and other family members do. Having a parent or a close family member who has a problem with alcohol addiction increases your risk of developing a dependency as well.
Effects of addiction
Part of the reason someone can start drinking is to feel more comfortable in social situations, as it helps reduce inhibitions. As the person drinks more alcohol, they may feel more sociable and a little dizzy. As more alcoholic beverages are consumed, it begins to speak with more difficulty, and the person can become aggressive. It is no coincidence between alcohol use and violent acts.
The consequences of alcohol consumption are multiple and each person behaves very differently when drinking alcohol. Alcohol (ethanol) is a powerful psychoactive drug that has numerous and diverse side effects, both short and long term.
The consequences of alcoholism can seriously affect our body and personal well-being.
Some factors to take into account when thinking about the consequences of alcoholism are: age, physical state, personality type, weight, family history, speed and frequency with which alcohol is ingested, the reasons, the emotions you have.
The longer and more alcohol ingested, the greater the negative physical consequences, the damage done to the body.
The complications and effects of long-term alcohol abuse
If someone continues to drink alcohol excessively for a long period of time, they run the risk of developing cirrhosis, and brain damage with effects such as memory loss. Drinking more than a moderate amount has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Some of the most important effects of alcohol abuse are:
- Alcohol consumption first affects emotions (sudden mood swings), thought processes and judgment.
- It alters brain functions, neurotransmitters: loss of muscle coordination, decreased alertness, vision changes, delayed reflexes, tremors and hallucinations. It affects memory, ability to concentrate and motor functions.
- The nerve fibers of the legs and arms are damaged. A feeling of muscle weakness, pain, cramping appears after drinking.
- The decrease in vitamin B1 produced by alcohol can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff disease, a reversible disease that affects brain cells related to thinking, feelings and memory. Excitability, disorientation, memory loss and visual problems occur. Korsakoff’s syndrome is reached as a progression of Wernicke’s disease and is irreversible. Those affected cannot learn new things and confuse reality with their inventions.
- The movements and balance are affected. The person may feel difficulty walking. Recovery is not always complete.
- Sleep disorders occur.
- Mental abilities and memory are progressively lost.
- Alcoholics often isolate themselves from their social environment. They suffer crises in the family environment (fights, divorces, abandonments) and in the workplace (loss of employment), which often leads to depression and, in some cases, suicide.
- Damage occurs in the heart muscle. The ability to pump blood is affected, as it weakens the heart muscles.
- The redness is due to peripheral vasodilation, which increases the surface temperature of the skin.
- The walls of the stomach suffer from irritation and inflammation because the production of gastric acid is increased. In this way, ulcers, hemorrhages and perforations of the gastric wall appear.
- Cirrhosis occurs: degeneration of the liver in its capacity of purifier and creator of blood clotting factors, as a consequence massive bleeding occurs.
- Alcohol abuse has been linked to stomach cancer.
- Alcoholism can cause cancer of the larynx, esophagus and pancreas.
- It can cause a severe inflammatory disease of the pancreas, acute pancreatitis.
- Libido and sexual activity decrease dramatically.
- In men, it can cause impotence, infertility and erectile dysfunction, loss of facial hair.
- In women, amenorrhea, anovulation and early menopause appear; It produces infertility.
- In pregnancy, alcoholism can have serious consequences, because it triggers fetal alcohol syndrome. Its symptoms are cardiac malformations, ocular malformations, growth retardation, alteration of cranio-facial features, renal malformations, liver malformations.
The consequences of alcoholism are remarkable from the first minute. Drinking alcohol has immediate effects, because it favors risk behaviors. Alcohol is present as the cause of accidents at work, traffic, vandalism, altercations, violence, attacks of all kinds.
Long-term alcohol abuse and addiction also puts the user at risk of serious medical consequences if he tries to stop alcohol consumption without proper medical help and supervision. Severe withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism indicate that the disease is dangerously advanced.
Alcohol dependence syndrome or alcoholism is one of the most serious problems related to alcohol consumption, due to the consequences and the long-term effects that it encompasses.
Alcohol addiction is so important that the body is not able to live without alcohol. When you stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms, called delirium tremens, appear. Hallucinations and severe physical discomfort occur. Medical attention is needed because in extreme cases the person can die.
Therefore, detoxification centers or rehabilitation clinics, which can supervise the patient, are recommended. The help of family or friends is essential.
Alcohol detoxification (ie the attempt not to consume the substance at once) poses greater health risks for the addict than the other drugs. A sudden interruption of alcohol consumption can often induce a condition known as delirium tremens. A person can die as a direct result of alcohol withdrawal. Generally, medical detoxification is needed to stop excessive alcohol consumption safely.
Help and treatment for alcohol addiction
The first step to get out of the alcohol trap is to stop drinking, either by your own will or with the intervention of alcohol rehabilitation centers. If you have been drinking alcohol for a long time, it is likely that you will experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you try not to consume. These symptoms may include hallucinations, headaches, seizures, tremors and vomiting. With the help of a detoxification program with medical supervision you can avoid these symptoms, and then you can continue the treatment of your addiction in the rehabilitation stage without having problems.
Alcohol recovery and rehabilitation
Alcohol rehabilitation centers offer hospital care for patients who are starting their recovery path. Patients examine the reasons why they became addicted and learn to deal with events that may tempt them to drink again. Outpatient medical care gives them the support they need to stay sober. Recovery programs, such as the 12-step program, Alcoholics Anonymous are helpful in achieving long-term abstinence.