It is difficult to tell when one has crossed the line from social drinking to problem drinking. Since alcohol is a substance that is actively encouraged in modern UK society, most adults drink it to some extent. But how does alcohol addiction start? Moreover, why are some individuals affected when others are not? These are questions that are often asked by those who have found themselves struggling to control their alcohol consumption. Perhaps you have asked yourself the same questions?
Are you aware that alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the UK? Despite this though, many people are oblivious to the fact that alcohol can be harmful or that their use of it could be classed as such. The idea that alcohol is a harmless substance is usually to do with the fact that it is legal. When comparing it to illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin, for example, most would assume that the drugs are worse in terms of health implications.
Many drinkers are unaware that alcohol abuse is linked to hundreds of health problems and that it can even cause certain forms of cancer. There are those that think alcoholism is something that happens to other people and believe that you have to be a certain type of person to be affected. This is definitely not the case.
Who Is Affected by Alcohol Addiction?
If you have found yourself pondering the question of how alcohol addiction starts, you may also be looking for the answer to who exactly is affected by it. The answer is– anyone. It does not matter how old you are, or what your gender, race, religion, or background is; if you abuse alcohol, you are prone to developing an addiction.
Alcoholism does not discriminate on the basis of where you live or how much money you have, and contrary to popular belief, you do not have to drink certain types of alcohol to become addicted. It is not uncommon for some drinkers to believe that they could not possibly have an addiction as they only ever drink beer. Or that they could not be addicted as they do not drink alcohol every day.
The reality is that addiction is determined by the amount of control you have over your alcohol consumption and not the type of alcohol you consume or the frequency with which you drink it. Just because you do not drink alcohol from bottles wrapped in a brown paper bag or stumble around all day under the influence does not mean you could not have an addiction. If you are unable to control your drinking and if you continue to drink when you know that it will have negative consequences, you almost certainly have an addiction that requires treatment. How does alcohol addiction start though?
When Did Your Addiction Begin?
You will find it tough to pinpoint the moment you became addicted to alcohol because it is not something that happens suddenly. In fact, you may have been developing a physical dependence to alcohol for a long time without even realising it.
Many individuals do not become aware that they have a problem with alcohol until a family member or friend raises the issue. The nature of substance abuse is that very often the substance being abused is affecting areas of the brain that are responsible for logical thinking and good decision making. Those who have developed an alcohol addiction often do not realise that they have a problem. These individuals are unable to see what is clear to everyone else.
In many instances, it is only when the affected person actually tries to quit alcohol that he or she realises that they are unable to. This is usually when reality sinks in and the person then becomes more open to the idea of help. Does this sound familiar to you?
While you will not be able to tell when your addiction started, you can get an idea of how it happened. Alcohol is a mood-altering substance that affects certain areas of the brain. One of these areas is the pleasure centre and it is this part of the brain that is responsible for releasing what are known as ‘feel-good’ (dopamine) chemicals. The very first time you drank alcohol, your brain probably released a surge of these chemicals and you felt a rush of pleasure.
If you liked the effects of alcohol, you may have then decided to drink it again. At this point though, you will have had full control over your use and probably only drank occasionally. While some people never drink enough to get intoxicated and never drink more than the recommended weekly allowance of fourteen units, others progress from social use to habitual use. Their drinking becomes a habit and something that they do without conscious thought.
Regular alcohol consumption can cause the brain to almost mould itself around your use and it will adapt to release fewer of the feel-good chemicals when you drink. This may mean that you will need to drink more to achieve the feeling you crave. But increasing your alcohol consumption might result in a physical dependency and, when the effects wear off, you begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms. At this point, you will have little or no control over when and how much you drink. Even when you promise yourself that you will not drink, you are unable to fight the urge.
Can You Beat an Alcohol Addiction?
The issue of how alcohol addiction start is less important as how to end it. Fortunately, there are many options for the treatment of alcohol addiction, but it almost always begins with a detox.
A detox is the body’s way of eliminating alcohol from your system when you quit drinking. It usually begins around six hours after the last drink, when the effects of alcohol start to wear off and your body realises that the usual dose is not forthcoming.
An alcohol detox can be a complicated process because of how alcohol affects so many different cells in the body. What you should know though is that although there is a risk of complications, in a dedicated detox facility the symptoms can be effectively managed by experienced staff and the administration of medication, where appropriate of course.
Once you have completed an alcohol detox, you can begin treatment for the underlying issues that caused the addiction. It may be the case that you were using alcohol to help you deal with a stressful life or to block out memories that you found particularly painful or disturbing. You might not be able to pinpoint the reason for your addictive behaviour, but with a comprehensive recovery programme you will be able to get to the root of your problem and learn how to deal with it.
Rehabilitation for an alcohol addiction will take place in either an outpatient or inpatient facility. The type of programme that is most suited to your requirements will depend on how severe the addiction is and what your personal situation is like. You may wish to be treated in a residential clinic because it means being away from all temptations, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in your recovery without having to worry about anything else.
On the other hand, you might not want to be away from your loved ones and might worry that the stress of this could affect your ability to cope with the recovery process. Finding the right programme for you is all about considering all your needs and circumstances.
If you would like more information on alcohol addiction and how to overcome it, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. Sanctuary Lodge is a private clinic based in Essex incorporating state-of-the-art facilities to ensure the comfort of our patients at all times. We have an excellent record of success and a team of dedicated and passionate individuals who will endeavour to help you get your life back on the right track. Please call to speak to one of our friendly advisors about what we can do for you.