Most people do not associate alcohol with being harmful, and a lot of this has to do with the fact that it is a legal substance. However, despite alcohol being an extremely addictive substance that can be as dangerous, if not more so, as many other mood-altering substances, most people consider it safe and harmless.
The reality is that when consumed in moderation, alcohol is considered relatively safe. But there are many negative consequences associated with alcohol when it is consumed in excessive amounts. These include health problems, relationship breakdowns, and financial worries.
The UK Government has guidelines in place for the safe consumption of alcohol, which state that no more than fourteen units of alcohol should be consumed on a weekly basis. The guidelines also recommend that the weekly allowance is spread across the entire week and comprise a number of days alcohol-free. Staying within these guidelines is considered low risk in terms of health problems and potential addiction developing. For those who struggle to understand how alcohol causes addiction, we describe how this is so in the following paragraphs.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?
Some individuals really struggle to understand how alcohol causes addiction. This is usually because they have no idea what it is like to have no control over their use of it. They can choose to drink when they want to, and they choose when to stop. Their lives are not controlled by the need to drink and they do not allow their use of alcohol to interfere with their relationships.
However, for those who do have an alcohol addiction, things are very different. Alcoholism usually begins with an increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol. When tolerance builds, drinkers find that they need to consume more alcohol to feel the desired effects.
Increasing alcohol consumption can result in a physical dependence, where the body begins to rely on alcohol to function normally. At this point, trying to stop or even cut down on alcohol use can lead to physical symptoms that can make the affected person feel quite unwell. Many people will discover very quickly that the symptoms associated with the withdrawal of alcohol subside when more alcohol is consumed. It is this that leads to a cycle of abuse.
Although you will not become addicted to alcohol overnight, continued regular abuse will cause a number of changes in the way that your brain functions. As time goes by and your brain and body learn to depend on alcohol, you will find it harder and harder to resist. You will begin to crave it whenever the effects wear off, and you may be unable to function normally without it.
Once an addiction has developed, you will be compelled to drink even when knowing it is going to cause negative consequences for yourself and others. You will drink even when you desperately want to quit as you will have no strength to resist the pull it has over you.
Why Treatment is Necessary
You might have found it hard to understand how alcohol causes addiction, but what you may find easier to comprehend is the need for treatment in those affected. Alcohol addiction can destroy so many lives and without treatment, it can be a struggle for all concerned to get back to normal.
Due to the changes that can occur in the brain, it is usually necessary for addicts to access professional help if they want to regain control of their lives once more and get better. Without help, they will struggle to get clean, and even if they do manage to do this without help, they will be at risk of a relapse later on.
Alcoholism is an illness that will continue to get worse with time. The longer you abuse alcohol, the higher your risk for both physical and mental illness. There are many illnesses directly linked to alcohol abuse. These include:
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- heart disease
With treatment though, the risk of developing a serious or even life-threatening illness will be reduced.
You should also be aware that alcoholism will have a profound effect on other areas of your life as well, namely on your relationships and finances. If you allow your addiction to continue without getting help, you could suffer irreversible damage to some of your relationships. You will be in danger of losing those you love if you continue to abuse alcohol and if it is affecting your behaviour and making you act in an inappropriate and unacceptable manner.
Alcohol abuse often causes affected individuals to become aggressive and violent and it has been linked to domestic violence and violent crime. As you can imagine, those you love are going to be negatively affected by such behaviour.
If your alcohol abuse is allowed to progress, you may also suffer financial problems. As you spend more and more of your time under the influence of alcohol or thinking about it, your ability to perform at work will be affected. Poor performance and regular absenteeism can reduce your ability to earn an income and could even result in you losing your job. Moreover, if you are spending increasing amounts of money funding your habit, your financial situation will be negatively affected.
As you can see, alcohol treatment is especially important. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can look at getting your life back under control.
What is Treatment Like?
While many people are unable to understand how alcohol causes addiction or are unwilling to accept that they might have a problem, there many who have not reached out for help because they are afraid of what rehab might mean for them.
It is common for a fear of treatment to be holding people back from trying to overcome their alcohol addictions. The good news is that there is absolutely nothing to worry about and nothing to fear.
Alcohol treatment involves both detoxification and rehabilitation. Detox is the process that involves you quitting alcohol and waiting for your body to eliminate the toxins that have accumulated in your system.
During detox, your body and brain will attempt to get back to normal. As they learn to function without alcohol once more, you are likely to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms that may make you feel unwell. Fortunately, most of these symptoms will be mild to moderate in intensity and will pass within a few days to a couple of weeks.
Some affected individuals will experience more severe symptoms, but in a dedicated detox facility with the support of fully qualified, experienced staff, many of the worst symptoms can be avoided. Those that do occur can be effectively treated.
After detox comes rehab; rehab breaks the habits associated with the addiction and helps you to develop new positive coping strategies to use when faced with triggers and temptations on your return to normal everyday living.
Both detox and rehab are necessary for those who want to achieve full recovery from alcohol addiction. If you would like more information on overcoming alcohol addiction, please call us today. Similarly, if you want to know more about how alcohol causes addiction, we are happy to answer your queries.
We are here to help those affected by addiction directly as well as family members who want to find out more about an illness that is affecting a loved one. Please call our helpline now to find out more about what we do and the programmes we offer for those who need help to overcome addiction once and for all.