Beating alcoholism can be tough. Any drug or behavior of abuse can trigger the development of the disease of addiction, but some can lead to an addiction so severe as to be virtually unbreakable without both experienced professional help and tremendous effort on the part of the sufferer.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
An alcohol addiction is also known as alcoholism. It is a non-discriminatory disease that can affect anyone at any time. There is no one, single cause for alcohol addiction. Even so, there are some factors that make some people more susceptible to alcoholism than others.
Alcohol addiction is a disease, much like cancer and diabetes are diseases. It is treatable, but ongoing treatment must be obtained in order to remain in recovery. Research has shown that when someone suffers from alcoholism, they experience significant brain changes. These changes affect a person’s actions, making them extremely difficult to control.
Alcoholism looks different in different people. Some people may consume alcohol heavily all day long. Others may only binge drink once or twice a week, and then remain sober for quite some time.
The fact that alcohol addiction can look so different from person to person changes nothing. A key indicator of alcoholism is that someone relies heavily upon alcohol. That person is usually unable to control how much or how often they drink. They are not able to stay sober for a long period of time. This is why beating alcoholism is so challenging. However, that does not mean it can’t be done.
The Cause of Alcohol Addiction
Addiction is a disease that does not have any one single causal factor – genetics, environment (both familial and cultural), personal behavior, and the addictiveness of the particular substance all play a role, both in the development of the disease and in the difficulty level of recovering from it.
When all of these factors are considered, a very strong case can be made that one substance in particular presents its abusers with the greatest challenges to overcome when they try to regain their sobriety – ALCOHOL.
“At the bottom of every person’s dependency, there is always pain. Discovering the pain and healing it is an essential step in ending dependency.”
~Chris Prentiss, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure
More Information About Alcohol Addiction
An alcohol addiction is often referred to as alcoholism. This refers to the need to frequently drink alcohol. It is a compulsive need that leads to cravings and a loss of control.
For most adults, consuming alcohol is not problematic. Even moderate alcohol use is considered to be normal. However, for about 18 million adults in the United States, alcohol is a serious problem. This is how many people have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism.
For someone with alcoholism, or an alcohol addiction, that person’s life revolves around alcohol. It has become the central focus. This person has developed a physical dependence on alcohol, which can and does result in withdrawal.
Alcohol addiction is a long-term disease. It is chronic in nature, and it will only get worse before it gets better. Being an alcoholic does not mean that you lack willpower. It does not mean that you are weak if you’re unable to stop drinking. What it does mean is that you have a disease that needs to be treated.
The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
People frequently confuse the terms alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction or dependence. They are often used to mean the same thing, but they’re really quite different from each other.
It’s so important for you to understand these differences. Only then will you be able to fully understand what your relationship to alcohol really is. Once you know, beating alcoholism is something you can accomplish if you need to.
Alcohol abuse refers to any use of alcohol that would be considered harmful. An excellent example of this would be someone who frequently participates in binge drinking. Alcohol abusers may binge drink, or simply drink heavily. However, that does not mean they suffer from alcoholism.
For those who abuse alcohol, their use of it is generally something that’s done recreationally. They may abuse alcohol once a week, or they may do it much less frequently than that. The key is that they don’t feel the need to drink. They may enjoy it, but it is not a compulsion.
On the other hand, alcoholism is very different from alcohol abuse. Someone who is an alcoholic does feel compelled to drink. They may drink alcohol at every possible opportunity. They may even refuse to attend events unless they are able to drink alcohol during them.
Alcoholism is also characterized by the presence of increased tolerance levels and withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholics need to drink larger amounts of alcohol in order to get drunk. They also experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink. For alcoholics, they often arrange their lives around their ability to drink. They may consume alcohol when they wake up in the morning. Without alcohol, they don’t feel like themselves, and they feel they need it to feel normal.
How Genetics and Biology Affect Your Attempt at Beating Alcoholism
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, genetics accounts for up to 50% of an individual’s risk for drug and alcohol addiction.
Recently, neuroscience researchers at the University of California discovered that among certain genetically-predisposed individuals, even just a single drink can trigger the release of excessive opioids in the brain’s reward centers, making the alcohol more pleasurable. This genetic difference might be why some individuals drink more frequently and more heavily than others.
One neuropharmacologist at Emory University, Michael Owens, said, “If you’re getting some reinforcement or reward from something like alcohol… Your brain is telling you this is something important to you.”
How Family Environment Affects Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism tends to be a multigenerational disease. According to research released in a newsletter by Kansas State University and data disseminated by the National Association for Children of Alcoholics –
- an individual is 50% more likely to abuse alcohol if they have family members or friends who drink heavily
- children of alcoholic parents are up to four times more likely to suffer from alcohol dependency at some point than other children
- 47% of individuals who begin drinking before 14 years of age become alcohol dependent at some point in their life, compared to just 9% of those who begin drinking after the age of 20
- 43% of the adults in America have been exposed to alcoholism within their family
- 18% of American adults grew up while living with an alcoholic
- almost one-third of alcoholics have at least one parent who was/is an alcoholic
- children of alcoholics have inpatient admission rates for substance abuse three times that of other children
- children of alcoholics have inpatient admission rates for mental disorders double that of other children
How Society Affects Alcohol Addiction
One of the first things a person beating alcoholism learns is how to avoid the people, places, and things that may trigger cravings that may result in a relapse. Consequently, a newly-sober individual will often choose to stay away from bars, liquor stores, and nightclubs where alcohol is so prevalent.
However, it is virtually impossible to escape depictions of alcohol in popular entertainment. Everywhere the recovering alcohol looks, he is reminded of his drug of choice.
- 71% of all primetime television programming depicts the use of alcohol
- 77% at least refers to alcohol
- even 38% of TV-G programming portrays depictions of alcohol use
- 40% of the programming shows drinking to be a positive experience
- only 10% of the time is drinking shown as a negative experience
Furthermore, alcohol is everywhere in society. Illicit drugs are not out in the open, so it is possible for a person to avoid them. It is impractical and unrealistic to expect for a person to completely avoid places and situations where alcohol might be served – restaurants, dates, celebrations, social events, even office parties.
How Personal Behavior Affects Beating Alcoholism
At the beginning, it is a person’s choice to take a drink. However, over time, the regular use, and especially the regular heavy use/abuse of alcohol precipitates changes in that person’s brain, making even heavier drinking and, eventually, alcohol dependence more likely.
The ability to choose gets taken away as the person becomes powerless over alcohol.
According to scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, up to one in four adults in the US have engaged in binge drinking within the past month. Binge drinking – defined as the consumption of a large quantity of alcohol in a single session – can significantly increase risk of developing an addiction to alcohol.
90% of the alcohol consumption of underage drinker happens during incidents of binge drinking.
Just How Addictive Is Alcohol?
Numerous sources have attempted to create “Top 10” lists of the World’s Most Addictive Drugs, based on several properties –
- Reinforcement – why people want to keep taking the drug
- Intoxication – how much damage the drug does to a person
- Withdrawal – how severe the symptoms are
- Tolerance – how much of the drug is needed to achieve the desired effect
- Dependence – how hard it is to stop using the drug
On most lists, alcohol came in around the middle of that Top 10, just below crystal meth, making it more physically addictive than cocaine, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, or ecstasy.
On the entire list, only alcohol and benzodiazepines have withdrawal symptoms that can be so dangerous as to be life-threatening. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be so severe that the prescribed treatment is benzodiazepine medication.
What All of This Means for Beating Alcoholism
When all of these factors are combined, it is plain to see that alcohol is so insidious, touching and touched by so many areas of a person’s life that it is overwhelmingly difficult to overcome a dependence upon it – perhaps exceedingly so, if one has to rely on their own willpower.
Fortunately, that is not the case.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Getting treated for your alcohol addiction is so important. Alcohol treatment offers you the professional support you need to recover successfully. There are different methods that are used in order to beat alcohol addiction.
Alcohol detox works by helping the body to remove toxins associated with alcohol consumption. There are different ways that alcohol detoxification is accomplished. The ultimate goal is to prepare the body for alcohol rehab and ongoing recovery.
Medication treatment is often done during alcohol detox. However, there are cases when medical doctors will prescribe medications as well. A number of different drugs can be used to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Counseling is so important for those who wish to recover from alcoholism. The key is to understand why the alcohol addiction occurred. Counselors are specially trained to be able to do this.
Inpatient alcohol rehab is a program that lasts around 30 days. During this time, patients participate in individual counseling sessions and group therapy. Other types of treatment may be utilized as well.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent example of a 12 Step Program for alcoholics. AA meetings are held all over the country, in virtually every city. They offer a group centered approach to treating alcoholism.
How do You Know it’s Time for Alcoholism Treatment?
It’s important to be able to identify when it’s time for you to get help for beating alcoholism. You might not be able to tell on your own. To help, we’ve come up with some indicators you can look for within your own life.
It’s time to go to alcohol rehab when you:
- Have experienced times when you couldn’t stop yourself from drinking more than you intended.
- Have tried to cut down on your drinking, or stop, but you were unsuccessful.
- Are getting tired of experiencing the aftereffects of drinking.
- Find that drinking and the effects of alcohol are interfering in your daily life.
- Are continuing to drink even though it’s causing you health, financial and personal problems.
- Have noticed that you need to increase how much you drink to get the same effects.
There’s no shame in admitting you are an alcoholic. Beating alcoholism depends on you taking that all-important first step.
Addiction relapses are completely normal, and it’s important for you to know this. By definition, addiction is a relapsing disease, and this is just as true for alcoholism as for other addictions. A relapse can happen for any number of reasons.
You may experience a relapse back into your alcohol addiction once you stop drinking. However, if you know what signs to look for, you may be able to prevent it. An alcohol addiction relapse might be looming if you
- Start thinking fondly about your past alcohol use.
- Start to tell yourself you’ll be able to have one drink without going back to being an alcoholic.
- Begin to reconnect with people you used to drink with.
- Start becoming defensive about your drinking habits.
- Begin to deny having a drinking problem.
- Notice any changes in your attitude or behavior, such as becoming depressed, or feeling lonely.
- Experience a breakdown in your healthy social relationships.
- Start to lose interest in your favorite activities or hobbies.
- Suddenly start to have withdrawal symptoms again.
- Begin feeling like you don’t believe in your alcoholism recovery program anymore.
If you do experience a relapse, it doesn’t have to be a full-on alcohol relapse. Also, giving in and having one drink does not mean that you’ve backslidden completely. Please know that you don’t have to go back to your old drinking patterns just because of one drink. You can get right back on the right track again very easily.
The bottom line is that you want to know what you can do to beat alcoholism. There are certain things you can do to make your recovery more certain.
First, you have to make a commitment to abstain from alcohol. For an alcoholic, any consumption of alcohol at all can lead to a relapse. It may be hard for you to make this commitment, but it’s one that will serve you well.
Secondly, get the support you need. You may or may not have a supportive family at home. Going to alcohol rehab can provide you with support. You can also get peer support and help through AA meetings. One of these approaches will be the right one for you.
Finally, look for other ways to deal with the stress you’re under. Counseling can help you with this. Your counselor can assist you with coming up with alternate coping strategies. Ones that don’t involve alcohol will actually help you in more ways that you probably realize.
If you believe that you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, the best decision you can make is to contact professional help today. Trained and experienced alcoholism rehabilitation specialists can assist you with achieving sobriety and regaining control of your life.
Professional treatment at an alcohol rehab is the best way to beat alcoholism. Unfortunately, this is the option that people often don’t think of. They feel that they can stop drinking on their own, and this could be because of a few reasons.
Alcohol is considered to be the “safest” substance to consume. This might be because it’s legal to purchase and consume, as long as you’re age 21 or older. It’s very socially acceptable, and it’s also available in many places. The perceived safety of alcohol only tends to fuel the fire of alcoholism. It seems to be getting worse with every passing year.
The fact is that recovering from alcoholism is possible, but there are right and wrong ways to recover. Alcohol should never be stopped without professional support. Most people need to go through a period of alcohol detox first. This ensures that the alcohol is processed through the body without negative side effects. These can be dangerous for your health. Once alcohol detoxification has been completed, the next step is alcohol rehab.
Begin the Process to Beat Alcohol Addiction Today
At Northpoint Recovery, we can assist you with getting the alcohol treatment you need. Beating alcoholism could be well within your reach. However, it does require for you to be willing to take the first step.
While it is difficult to admit you’re an alcoholic, you’ll find it was the best decision you could have made.
Are you looking for ways to beat alcohol addiction in your own life? Do you need information about how we can help you reach that goal? Please contact us to learn more about our numerous treatment options.