What is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Because of this, signs of alcoholics can sometimes be easy to miss.
Serenity Addiction Centres are world leaders when it comes to the treatment of alcohol addiction and dependence. This is why we share these alcohol addiction facts to make sure you are as informed as possible and to help you decide whether or not you need to come to us for help.
Once we have successfully helped a client detox, we work on a specialised recovery plan that is tailored to each specific patient and their needs.
Alcohol dependence, also known as alcohol addiction or alcoholism, is a severe drinking habit that often results in strong urges to drink that can be at times impossible to control.
People with alcohol addiction often find that alcohol takes up an important part of their day-to-day life, which can have the unfortunate effect of building up their tolerance, meaning over time they begin to drink even more.
If you drink several times a week, or often feel like you need to go to the pub after work just to be able to relax, chances are you’re either dependent on alcohol or on your way to it.
Causes of Alcohol Addiction
While it might not start off this way, alcohol addicts often drink because they crave the way alcohol makes them feel. If a non-alcoholic has a drink, they can enjoy it and then move on with their lives without it having a major effect.
They’ll be able to take it or leave it, which may seem easy to somebody who has never suffered with alcoholism, but an alcoholic finds it difficult or even impossible to resist their urges.
The craving and desire to drink can be completely overwhelming and can result in them drinking until they pass out. An alcohol addict simply can’t make rational and reasonable decisions about alcohol or just choose to stop and follow through with it.
Why Do Alcoholics Start Drinking?
There can be many causes – stress, family problems, bereavement, money worries, illness. Someone might pick up a drink to destress, and then find that they are doing it more and more just to get through the day instead of naturally being able to cope with whatever issues may be going on in their lives.
On the other hand, there are cases where someone takes just one drink, and that’s enough to become addicted. Alcohol misuse doesn’t necessarily even need to be involved, as some people just naturally have an addictive personality.
Usually, the addictive behaviour is driven by multiple factors. In lots of cases, it has been shown to run in families. This is believed to be attributable to both the genetic makeup of the individual as well as the attitudes to alcohol that they’ve grown up with.
It has further been proven that alcohol dependency is more prevalent amongst those with some form of psychiatric disorder. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or similar related issues. There can be a tendency to self-medicate – one which you might recognise in yourself.
Although some feel that this provides short-term relief, the long-term effect of combining alcoholic and mental illness is an even greater imbalance of the chemical ratios in your brain, and professional help and often rehab is the only long term way of recovering from both.
Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating mental illness that almost always requires treatment to overcome. If you think you may be an alcoholic, we highly recommend calling us now for free advice on your next steps and how we can help you get control of your life and get back on track.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcohol addiction symptoms can be pretty hard to spot. Unlike illegal drugs, alcohol is a common and accepted part of our society and culture. Plenty of people in the UK drink regularly and some may even appear to be an alcoholic at one time in their life, for example when first going to university, but then get over it very quickly.
Even for professionals, it can be sometimes be difficult to immediately tell the difference between an alcoholic and somebody who just likes to drink regularly but has control of the habit.
Some of the most common signs of an alcoholic can include:
- Alcohol denial signs, such as hiding alcohol, or pretending they aren’t drinking
- Not contacting loved ones for periods of time
- Encounters with the police or ambulance due to being so drunk
- Planning social, family, or professional events around when you will need a drink
- Increased quantities consumed or frequency of drinking
- Lack of energy, depression and other emotional problems
- Changes in friendship groups, for example spending more time with people that drink regularly
- Drinking at inappropriate times like on the way to work or at church
- High tolerance for alcohol or appearing to not get hangovers
Of course, if you get withdrawal signs after not drinking for 6-12 hours, that is also a big sign. Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, shaking, sweating and insomnia.
There are some questions you can ask yourself to help work out whether you have a drinking problem. For example:
- Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a period of time or for good, but only lasted a couple of days?
- Do you get defensive when people ask about your drinking or ask them to mind their own business?
- Do you ever drink upon waking up?
- Do you blackout from drinking?
- Do you feel that your life would be better if you didn’t drink?
- Have you ever gone to get extra drinks while at a party, feeling that what was being served wasn’t enough?
If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, you could be in trouble with your drinking.
If you’re still not sure about the signs you’re an alcoholic, we recommend contacting us for advice.
Alcohol Addiction Effects on Health
Spotting alcohol dependency and treating it early on can make it possible to avoid the majority of health complications. If you know somebody you think may be an alcoholic, try to avoid shaming them or making them feel guilty, as this can make them withdraw into their shell and become more defensive, and even make them avoid you.
Approach them supportively, make it clear you are here for them and want to help them get the best from their lives. If this doesn’t work, it is, unfortunately, time to get professional help.
Alcohol has some serious side effects and some of the most recent alcohol addiction statistics suggest the substance is responsible for around 8,000 deaths per year in the UK alone.
Some of the side effects alcoholics and heavy long term drinkers can experience include:
- Immune system issues
- Coronary heart disease
- Increased chance of cancer
- Problems with vision
- Birth defects
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues
- Complications with diabetes
- Stomach ulcers
- Kidney and liver issues or failure
And this is without even getting into the dangers caused by drink driving.
Even your financial well-being can be adversely impacted, with many alcoholics finding that they’re unable to perform at work and eventually end up losing their employment.
This can not only further deepen the anxiety and depression you may be feeling, but also leave you with lots of extra hours in the day – hours that you might be tempted to spend drinking in order to boost your mood.
There are also other alcohol-related illnesses worth looking out for if you think somebody has a drinking problem:
Signs of Alcoholic Dementia
Alcoholic dementia is a serious problem caused when the brain is damaged by long term regular drinking.
Symptoms of alcoholic dementia include:
- Issues with decision making, organisation and planning
- Impulsiveness and inability to control emotions
- Loss of attention span
- Socially inappropriate behaviour
Signs of Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcoholic hepatitis is when heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time causes the liver to inflame. Continuing to drink with alcoholic hepatitis is incredible dangerous and can lead to internal bleeding or liver failure.
Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include:
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Constant fatigue
Treatment for Alcohol AddictionTreating alcoholism in the long term takes a lot more than a simple detox. Some clients binge drink once or twice a month, some drink daily, and some even wake up and drink first thing every morning. Often we find there are other issues in a person’s life that encourage them to drink, and a therapeutic and holistic approach can help identify these issues and work through them, which provides much more reliable and long term results than a simple detox. This part of treatment is often found to be quite difficult by some patients due to alcohol being a crutch in their life for so long. We have a highly qualified team of psychotherapists, doctors and counsellors, some of whom have overcome alcoholism themselves. They are waiting to meet you and help you uncover the thought processes, underlying issues, and more that may have encouraged your alcohol problem. This is all done in a safe and peaceful environment designed for confidentiality and stress free progress, and we offer a variety of free no-obligation advice and assessments to work out how serious your issues are and how we can help you. It can be extremely difficult or even impossible to stop drinking while still going through your normal day-to-day routine. The same friends, situations and triggers that often make you want to drink will still be present, making distracting yourself extremely hard. We offer a range of proven options designed to take you out of this situation into a relaxing and safe environment, and help you address your problems. These include:
- Alcohol counselling and therapy sessions
- Diet plans
- Alternative therapies such as reiki and massages
- Alcohol addiction help and support groups