Addictions can take several forms. An addiction is defined by continuing to do something repeatedly despite adverse consequences.
For instance, continuing to drink in the face of losing a job, partner, health, money or reputation.
Addictions are usually associated with substances, but people can be addicted to gambling, shopping, eating, online gaming or going to the gym.
However, alcohol continues to be one of the most common addictions. Alcoholism is the 5th leading cause of premature death and disability globally.
Addiction is progressive. Quantity and frequency increase over time, as does the damage caused by it.
Alcoholism can usually be challenging to identify as a problem until it is too late.
Unlike other drugs (yes, alcohol is a drug, the oldest drug known to humankind!), alcohol is socially acceptable, legally available and enticingly advertised.
Therefore, it is viewed as less dangerous than other drugs. In the case of binge drinkers, it can become even harder to recognise.
The individual believes that since he or she can stop for some time, they are not addicted.
Of course, not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes addicted. So, makes alcohol so addictive?
People tend to increase the quantity and frequency of their drinking because of the psychological effects it can have.
After partaking a few drinks and inhibitions begin to loosen, confidence grows, and they begin to feel good about ourselves.
The fact is that alcohol is a depressant. Once the effects wear off, the person no longer feels good mentally and physically.
For people with mental health issues, this pursuit to feel good or less anxious is a significant cause of addiction.
People with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia are more susceptible to dependency since they drink in a bid to manage their symptoms.
Moreover, people who are regularly stressed, for instance, those in high-pressure jobs, are known to turn to alcohol as a way to help them relax.
This creates a dependency cycle wherein they feel they can’t switch off without a drink.
These psychological traps form a tight grip around the alcohol users who may eventually have to face their own demons to overcome the addiction.
Addiction is also highly relapse-prone, therefore continued support by a professional is recommended to prevent relapse.
Unlike behavioural addictions, alcohol creates a physical dependency.
Long term intake impacts almost all organs of the body, including the brain and may lead to frequent hospitalisations.
One of the most painful outcomes is when the person who has been drinking large quantities of alcohol stops suddenly.
The body which has become so used to having alcohol for normal functioning then struggles to function without it.
This triggers physical withdrawal symptoms that may include tremors, nausea and diarrhoea. In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures and delirium.
The physical effects of alcohol withdrawal need to be medically managed for the sake of the person’s safety. As a rule, it is recommended to seek professional support for managing alcohol addiction.
As a result of the physical and psychological aspects, alcohol is a highly addictive substance and one of the most widespread dependencies worldwide.
The powerful grip of alcoholism on our mind and body makes it one of the hardest addictions to break out of. Along with this, the cultural acceptance of drinking and ease of access makes abstinence even harder.
If you or someone you care for is falling into the trap of alcohol addiction, reach out to us for prompt and professional help. Just call Freephone 0800 140 4044 and start a new life of joy and freedom!