Addiction to alcohol can affect anyone; it is not picky. Over the years, scientists have spent countless hours dedicated to pinpointing an exact trait like race, socioeconomic factors, sex, or genetics that makes someone more likely to abuse alcohol than the next person. Yet, each time, results show that there is not one single cause.
Everything and nothing can affect the likelihood of addiction — it’s all unique to the person.
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 has an alcohol addiction, 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 the alcohol treatment options is also a great step in the right direction to recovery.
Alcoholism: Effects, and Reasons for Abuse
Alcoholism is the difference between someone enjoying alcoholic beverages for leisure and being addicted to that very pleasure.
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 by the name of 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.)
All drugs carry a powerful dopamine-inducing surge with them, releasing up to 10x more of the feel-good chemical than do natural pleasures (things like food and sex). 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 drugs like heroin or cocaine, alcohol is a socially-accepted drug. There are many social settings centered around drinking and general supportive nature of alcohol in today’s society. 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 signs of alcoholism and symptoms parents must be aware of are happening.
There are some primary 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
- The 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
- The trouble with the law
- Lethargy, anxiety, depression
- Trouble at work or in school
Find out more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction here. If you recognize several of these signs, you should consider whether or not an alcohol addiction is at work.
Effects of Alcoholism
There are health issues of all shapes and sizes that come along with alcohol addiction. Some of these arising complications can be fatal. Once the damage is done, nearly every risk involved can be avoided with early treatment and long-term recovery. At our drug rehabs New Jersey treatment center we help you get through this difficult stage.
Health effects include:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Complications with diabetes
- Complications with sex (low libido, etc.)
- Vision loss
- Loss of bone density
- Risk of head, neck, throat, stomach, liver, and breast cancer
- 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. Read more about alcohol withdrawal here.
Reasons for Alcohol Abuse
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.
Why Do People Become Dependent on Alcohol?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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. The health effects, life disruptions, and unsavory symptoms can all dissipate with the support of a professional treatment center.
Seeking Help for Alcoholism
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 centers in New Jersey can help. Confronting one’s own addiction problems or speaking to a loved one about getting help for alcoholism is difficult. However, this is a necessary stage on the path to sobriety. Seeking help also means you do not have to battle these demons alone. Alcohol addiction treatment centers have the medical professionals, knowledge, experience to get you on the path to recovery. They also have support networks you need to ensure that your path to sobriety is a possibility.
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.