What is the definition of alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction – also known as alcoholism – is an addiction disease that can affect anyone, no matter age, gender or geographic location.
The disease can show itself in a variety of ways and depends on the severity of the addiction. Because alcohol is legal, inexpensive, socially normal and easily accessible, alcohol addiction is arguably the most common form of drug addiction across the globe. In fact, there were 35,823 alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone in 2017, 22,246 of which were liver-related fatalities.
For many, alcohol addiction can take the form of one drink per day. For others, it can be an all-too-frequent binge session that causes destructive behavior. But regardless of how it takes shape, those who suffer from alcohol addiction often face widespread issues that affect almost every aspect of their lives, including:
- Personal relationships
- Professional careers
- Personal goals and motivation levels
- Overall mental and physical health
Over time, as an alcohol addiction worsens, there can be ever-lasting complications that will affect the rest of someone’s life, even if they become sober. Receiving the right treatment as early as possible, then, is a necessity.
Warning signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction
Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction are extremely noticeable, and unfortunately, it is an addiction that can quickly spiral out of control and cause harm. Some symptoms of alcohol addiction include:
- Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Irritability and severe fluctuations in mood
- Making excuses for drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or feel normal
- Becoming socially reclusive and isolated from friends and family
- Drinking alone, or hiding the habit from those around you
Some warning signs that you might have an alcohol addiction include:
- Failure to control the consumption of alcohol
- A craving for alcohol when not drinking
- Failing to stop drinking at an appropriate time and wanting more
- Getting into financial risk because of alcoholism
There are, of course, many other signs and symptoms of alcoholism to watch for, and while an estimated 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, it is an extremely preventable disease with the right help.
Reasons why people might drink
There’s a plethora of reasons someone might pick up and consume alcohol regularly. For example:
- To relieve stress: Many people turn to alcohol to reduce the daily stress they experience in their life. While it may produce feelings of pleasure, the drug is actually considered a depressant.
- To feel good: For many, drinking feels good. And in moderation, there’s little to no harmful effects that alcohol has on the body or the mind. Using alcohol to consistently ‘escape reality’ and feel better, however, is considered an issue that needs addressing.
- Shame: Yes, shame is a big factor as to why some people drink. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, and many people use alcohol as an excuse for brash, more erratic behavior, thus making them feel shameful the next morning when they’re sober. This cycle is self-perpetuating.
- Trauma: For many, alcoholism is a way of avoiding a bad memory or situation that occurred. ‘Trauma drinking’ is one of the most common reasons someone might drink, but it is a painful way to forget past experiences. Often when trying to overcome an alcohol addiction, these past events must be addressed and overcome first.
Treatment for alcoholism
Deciding to seek help for alcoholism is a great first step to overcoming an addiction. It takes courage to step forward and accept help, but it is in that courage that a person can begin to move forward and overcome those barriers in the way of sobriety.
There are many types of treatment options available for alcohol addiction, each one serving a different level of frequency and severity. Some treatment options include:
The first and most important step to alcohol addiction recovery is to detoxify from the substance. In severe cases, this will require the assistance of medical professionals to ensure that the detoxification process is performed safely. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can be severe, and medication may be needed to alleviate the painful side effects of detoxifying.
Counselling (whether it’s group or individual), 12-step programs, and other more holistic approaches like wellness programs, are all effective ways to overcome initial addiction to alcohol. In a rehabilitation environment, you’re surrounded by others going through similar experiences to you, and also by professional staff who are on hand to guide you every step of the way. You’re also in an environment detached from your everyday life and the negative triggers that fuel your addiction.
Overcoming alcohol addiction alone is tricky. With expert guidance, professional treatment and a safe, tranquil and secluded environment at your disposal, conquering an alcohol addiction once and for is a lot more likely.
There is no cure for alcohol addiction. Chances are, you’ll be finding the urge to drink for the rest of your life, and it requires constant management to ensure that you can avoid succumbing to past negative habits.
Ongoing aftercare, then, is essential for long-term happiness and sobriety. With a rehab program, many clients have access to ongoing aftercare including things like support groups, a selection of recovery resources and, in some severe cases, even the opportunity to attend a transitional living facility to ease someone back into reality.
In 2014, roughly 16.3 million adults in the United States had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), and of those with an AUD, only 8.9 percent received treatment. Don’t fall victim to your addiction. We encourage you to seek professional help as soon as you can and to take back control of your life so that your future can return to being happy, fulfilled and sober, for the rest of your days.
To find out more about how Tikvah Lake Recovery can help you or your loved one with alcohol addiction, contact us today.