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Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder is a real disease that changes the brain and changes a person. Regardless of how the disease may affect someone, the one tell-tale sign of addiction is an inability to stay sober from alcohol for an extended period of time.

If you or someone in your life is addicted to alcohol, it’s helpful to identify the signs and symptoms, understand the long-term effects of abuse, and gain insight into how dependence happens. Learning about alcohol treatment options is also a great step in the right direction to recovery.

Alcoholism Effects and Reasons for Abuse

Addiction is a disease relating to the reward, memory, and motivation circuitry in the brain. The dysfunction, which addiction causes in the circuits, results in changes in the social, psychological, and physical levels of the addict.

This addiction begins with a feeling of pleasure to the brain that the substance brings when used. When one experiences pleasure, a neurotransmitter called dopamine fires off in a cluster of nerve cells in the brain, found just beneath the cerebral cortex (also known as the pleasure center of the brain.) For addicts, this feeling of pleasure becomes the thing they can’t live without, and they identify that substance as the source of their pleasure.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

In stark difference to illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine, alcohol is a socially accepted drug. There are many social settings centered around drinking, and American culture is generally supportive of alcohol use. With something so pervasive in our culture, it can be hard to tell the difference between what’s normal and what is cause for worry.

There are some common symptoms of alcoholism that may give away the addiction:

  • Suddenly or slowly increasing the amount or frequency of drinking
  • Drinking at times or in situations where it’s socially inappropriate — like a church service or at the office
  • High tolerance for alcohol while drinking
  • High tolerance for or complete lack of apparent hangover symptoms
  • Avoiding situations where alcohol won’t be present
  • Trouble with interpersonal relationships, friendships, and family relations
  • Secrecy or avoiding contact
  • Dependence on alcohol to get through normal life activities
  • Hiding alcohol or hiding drinks
  • Lethargy, anxiety, depression
  • Trouble at work or in school

If you recognize several of these signs, you should consider whether or not you or your friend/loved one might be dealing with alcoholism.

Effects of Alcoholism

There are health issues of all kinds that come along with alcohol addiction. If left untreated, some of these symptoms and complications can become fatal. Once the damage is done, nearly every risk involved can be avoided with early treatment and long-term recovery. At SOBA New Jersey, we help those suffering from alcohol addiction get through this difficult stage.

Health effects include:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Complications with diabetes
  • Complications with sex (low libido, etc.)
  • Vision loss
  • Loss of bone density
  • Increased risk of head, neck, throat, stomach, liver, and breast cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Lowered immune system and increased susceptibility
  • Withdrawal symptoms when drinking ceases

Withdrawal is a major effect of alcoholism. This is a physical response to the lack of alcohol and the body’s need for more. These symptoms vary for every person and may be worse for those who drink a higher amount or more frequently. 

Why Do People Become Dependent on Alcohol?

The reasons why people may turn to alcohol abuse are innumerable. Alcoholism results from a multi-faceted combination of factors from genetics, social environment, and personal psychology. While some risk factors are completely out of one’s control, every risk factor a person may qualify for further increases their risk of becoming addicted.

Despite all the many risk factors, there are five main reasons that people become dependent or addicted to alcohol.

  1. Stress: Many people drink to cope with stressful environments or situations that life throws at them. Instead of learning to cope in a healthy way, people may see an easy way out through masking their issues with substances like alcohol.
  2. Starting Drinking Young: Studies have shown that those who started drinking from a young age are more likely to struggle with alcohol dependence or addiction as they get older. This may be because of a foundation of habit or the increased tolerance levels that have built up.
  3. Underlying Mental Health Problems: Mental health issues can increase the risk of a drinking problem, as the temporary effects of alcohol may seem to ease the uncomfortable symptoms associated with whatever disorder one’s facing. This phenomenon is also known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis
  4. Pairing with Medication: Pairing alcohol with medication can increase the feel-good effects but also the toxicity in the body. A person can easily become addicted to the feeling that follows from mixing medication and alcohol.
  5. Family/Genetic History: Those who have close family members with a history of alcoholism are more likely to suffer from alcoholism themselves. This is partly due to genetics and partly due to the environment one spends time in.

Are You Dependent on Alcohol? SOBA Can Help

Do you identify with one or more of the above common causes of alcoholism? Have you noticed several of the symptoms disrupting your life? Are you worried about the many scary health effects alcohol addiction can cause for long-time abusers? If you are dependent on alcohol, it’s important to know that you’re not at a dead end.

Seeking help for alcoholism is the first stop on the road to recovery, but it can often be the most difficult step to take. Our alcohol addiction treatment center in New Jersey can help. 

At SOBA New Jersey, we treat those who are ready for a new chapter. this will be full of independence, sobriety, and personal success. Through our multi-step program, clients rewire their life into one of routine. Our clients gain responsibility and accountability for the future. If you are ready to see what life holds for you when you’re sober, contact us today.

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