Drinking alcohol in moderation isn’t a problem for many people, so why do some develop an alcohol dependence? Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical problem that makes it hard to control alcohol consumption whether you drink once a day or once a year.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction or AUD is a disease that makes lasting changes to the brain. Those changes create cravings to drink alcohol, leading to alcohol abuse and, eventually, alcoholism.
Drinking alcohol stimulates the release of certain endorphins from the brain’s reward center. The brain’s reward center exists to make you want to do things that are beneficial for your health, like exercising or eating food. For example, when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that make you want to exercise again. The chemicals that are produced during exercise can give you a feeling of pleasure along with satisfaction.
Alcohol abuse overstimulates this area of the brain in a way that makes some want to repeat the experience. That is what causes the cravings. At the same time, drinking alcohol interferes with impulse control and decision-making, so it’s difficult to stop.
Alcohol dependence has a psychological aspect, too. People can use it as a coping mechanism for stress or a way to self-medicate and manage physical or emotional pain. Sometimes, drinking is a response to social stress or peer pressure.
Who Is at Risk for Alcohol Addiction?
It is not entirely clear why some people deal develop alcoholism, and others don’t even though they may drink their whole lives. There are some know risk factors associated with alcoholism, though, such as:
- Beginning drinking at an early age
- Family history of alcohol problems or addiction
- Mental health issues or trauma
Whether or not a person develops AUD depends on many factors, including how quickly they consume alcohol.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Start?
There is no single answer to this question. It may start as social drinking or with peer pressure at an early age. But for many, alcoholism starts with the occasional night out that turns into binge drinking. Binge drinking is a term that refers to consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. This can be identified as stage one on the path to alcohol dependence.
Stage two of an alcohol addiction would involve increased drinking. You may start drinking more when something happens in your life, to manage stress, or because you like the way alcohol makes you feel.
Stage three would be when social drinking transitions into problem drinking. You plan your time around drinking alcohol even though it is impacting your life. Your alcohol use will almost certainly affect your relationships or job. You may even have legal problems due to alcohol consumption or start drinking alone at home instead of out with friends.
Stage four is when you can’t stop drinking alcohol. When you try, you give in to the craving or drink to stop the withdrawal. This is evidence of alcohol dependence.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
The next stage is getting the help you need. TruHealing Centers offers a continuum of care that starts with detox at one of our many facilities. Other services provided by TruHealing Centers include:
- Residential treatment
- Intensive outpatient services
- Partial hospitalization
- Outpatient treatment program
- Community housing
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction Today
TruHealing Centers is one of the leading mental health and substance use treatment programs in the country. We will be there to help you or someone you love to understand your addiction better and find a path to recovery.
Don’t let alcohol control your life. Give us a call today at [Direct] or go to the TruHealing Centers website and fill out our contact form.