Since alcohol consumption is so prevalent in society, it can be difficult to distinguish whether a loved one is suffering from alcohol dependence or is simply engaging in social drinking. This fact is only exacerbated by alcohol addicts being adept at lying and hiding their addictions from concerned parties. With alcohol being a commonly consumed and legal drug, many people have developed problems with binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption.
In fact, according to a 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 85% of adults reported consuming alcohol in the past year, and of this group, more than 25% reported binge drinking in the past month. Heavy drinkers, as in people who drink alcohol frequently and in large amounts, are at risk of experiencing alcohol problems. Binge drinking only increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Alcohol use disorder is defined as a chronic condition classified by compulsive alcohol consumption, loss of control over drinking alcohol, and negative emotions experienced when not drinking alcohol. This alcohol abuse causes the body to become dependent on the substance, which means that yes, alcohol is addictive. The body becomes addicted because alcohol consumption causes your brain to release dopamine and increased endorphins. These feelings of pleasure from the effects of alcohol increase the likelihood that individuals will continue to drink, which can eventually develop into a problem.
There are stages that a person will go through before they become fully addicted to alcohol. The early stage of alcoholism is when an individual develops a drinking problem, and there are warning signs that this may lead to further issues with alcohol dependency. In this stage, the individual may start drinking more regularly and will often consume more drinks in a single sitting than they would previously, which indicates that they are developing a tolerance to alcohol.
The next stage is marked by the individual having a tolerance to alcohol and needing to consume more of the substance in order to feel the same effects. In addition to increasing their alcohol consumption to feel pleasurable effects, a person in this stage will also continue drinking to avoid any negative effects. Once a person has developed that dependence on alcohol, if they attempt to stop drinking they will suffer from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
If a person feels symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when attempting to stop drinking, then they are in the final stage of alcohol addiction. These withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, and by the time a person reaches this stage, they are deteriorating both mentally and physically, which is why people suffering from alcohol use disorder should receive alcohol addiction help from a treatment center.
Alcohol addiction treatment programs offered at rehab facilities can help patients overcome their alcohol use disorder and begin a path of recovery. At Fusion Recovery, our rehab center offers outpatient programs to treat alcohol abuse, including counseling and behavioral therapies as well as support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).