The vast majority of adult drink alcohol occasionally, but far from all develop an addiction. Why do some become addicted to alcohol? How do you know that you are addicted and how do you get out of addiction?
What is alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence?
Alcohol is addictive, but the risk of developing an addiction varies from person to person. Some can drink heavily and often for years without becoming addicted, while others require relatively little alcohol and a short time. If you have an alcohol addiction, it means that you drink so much that it repeatedly causes physical, psychological or social problems. Abuse and dependence often go hand in hand, but not always.
Alcohol affects pretty much the whole body and the fact that alcohol activates the brain’s reward system makes us want to drink more. The more we drink, the more harmful it is – heavy alcohol consumption can lead to serious changes in the brain. There are also a number of diseases that can be caused or worsened by alcohol. These include heart disease, cancer, liver disease and nerve damage. In addition, the risk of accidents increases when you are drunk.
Is alcohol abuse hereditary?
To some extent, the likelihood of developing an addiction depends on heredity. The risk is greater if you have a close relative who has or had an addiction. If you feel that you feel very good from alcohol and rarely suffer from any major hangovers, the risk that you abuse alcohol and become addicted is also greater.
There are several signs that indicate that you are addicted to alcohol. For example, that
- You feel a strong craving for alcohol.
- It’s hard to stop drinking once you start.
- You prioritize alcohol over other things in life that should be more important.
- You tolerate more alcohol than you did before.
- You get abstinence when you don’t drink.
- You have tried to quit but failed.
When and where should I seek care?
If you feel that you have lost control over your drinking or see other signs that you have become addicted, there is help to get. The most important thing before you seek treatment is that you really decide that it is time to change your drinking habits, as this requires self-discipline and willpower.
You can always turn to your health center if you need help getting sober. If you have a job, it is also a good idea to contact the occupational health service. In addition to these options, it is possible to get help from social services.
There are several different types of treatment that can help you stop drinking. If you’ve already tried one treatment and found it didn’t work for you, you can try another.
- The Twelve-Step Programs
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Self-help in groups or individually
If you have an alcohol addiction, it is not uncommon to experience withdrawal symptoms when your alcohol intake decreases. The body is so used to alcohol that it reacts to the lack with anxiety, shakiness, nausea, sweating or trouble sleeping. The withdrawal usually wears off after about a week, but that period can be difficult to endure. If you suffer from severe withdrawal, you can get help from your healthcare center to alleviate the symptoms.
What can I do myself?
Step one is to decide that you want to get rid of your alcohol addiction. You may decide that you want to stop drinking altogether or cut down on your drinking, no matter what, it is important that you know what your goal is. Make a concrete plan for how to stop or scale back. After that, it is wise to start with a completely sober period – a start to your new life. Feel free to tell people you hang out with what you’ve decided to do, so you can get support and avoid pressure.