Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
When an individual drinks, the alcohol they consume is absorbed into their bloodstream through the stomach. Once these chemicals reach the brain, the person enters a slowed, sedated state that people typically associate with being drunk. In particular, the chemicals in alcohol begin to affect the parts of the brain that deals with pleasure, judgment and self-control.
Eventually, the changes that the brain makes in the presence of alcohol become permanent. Now “rewired” to operate with a large quantity of alcohol, the individual must drink in order to feel normal and get through his or her day. Once a person reaches this point, any attempt at alcohol detox and withdrawal must be done while under medical supervision.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction
Some people are more prone to developing a strong dependence on alcohol more quickly than others. For some, the escalation into a substance abuse problem could take years. For others, only a few months.
Here are a few of the reasons why a person may be more susceptible to alcohol addiction:
Studies show that the younger a person is when they start to drink, the higher their chance of developing a serious substance use disorder by the time they reach their 20s or 30s.
While you can’t inherit alcoholism from your parents, you can inherit an increased likelihood of becoming an alcoholic. That’s why people whose parents were heavy drinkers must be extra careful to watch their own habits.
People with friends who use drugs are more likely to be encouraged or frequently asked to try alcohol. This is especially true of high school- and college-aged students, many of whom are introduced to substance use through their groups of friends.
Those with mental health disorders such as depression are much more likely to abuse alcohol. A big part of this is lack of access to care. Those dealing with untreated mental health problems often turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Are you wondering if you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol? Like all addictions, alcoholism becomes harder to deal with the longer it goes untreated. Spotting it early on is easier if you know the signs of a full-blown or developing addiction.
Keep an eye out for these signs and get help before it’s too late:
- Drinking throughout the day
- Drinking in the morning
- Drinking alone
- Drinking before social engagements
- Making excuses for drinking
- Putting school or work at risk to drink
- Giving up favorite hobbies to drink