Because alcohol is legal to purchase and consume, many people do not consider the addictive and potentially dangerous physical and psychological effects of alcohol dependency and addiction. Unlike some substance use disorders, a dependence on alcohol takes time to develop. With time and regular drinking, tolerance and dependency develop. With these challenges, someone struggling with an alcohol addiction will experience physical and psychological struggles related to problematic alcohol consumption.
Despite all that is known about the dangerous effects of alcohol abuse, millions of people develop destructive relationships with alcohol every year. Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse suggest more than eighteen million Americans (some as young as 12) have an alcohol use disorder. Without treatment, long-term alcohol abuse often leads to lasting physical and emotional health challenges.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Put simply, yes. Alcohol is one of the most addictive legal substances people buy and consume in the United States. When someone consumes alcohol, it works within the brain to change how the reward system works. One of the most notable changes is how to brain produces a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for producing various emotions, including happiness and pleasure. Without alcohol, dopamine production is influenced by day-to-day events that would trigger an emotional response.
When someone consumes alcohol regularly or struggles with a significant dependency on alcohol, it will eventually change how much dopamine the brain produces. As alcohol intake increases, natural dopamine production is reduced. In time, your brain believes you need alcohol to feel specific emotions generally associated with dopamine. This leads to more frequent drinking at increasingly higher amounts.
The Warning Signs of a Drinking Problem to Look Out For?
Understanding the warning signs of a drinking problem can help you or a loved one seek early addiction treatment intervention before the harmful and detrimental effects of alcohol abuse worsen. Research has shown that early and effective alcohol addiction treatment is vital in improving positive treatment outcomes. Because alcohol addiction symptoms look different from person to person, it can be difficult to know when occasional drinking evolves into problematic drinking; however, some symptoms may indicate a problem with alcohol. Look for warning signs such as:
- Making excuses for drinking
- Changes in personal hygiene or appearance
- Mood swings and behavior changes
- Increased voluntary isolation
- Drinking secretively or hiding alcohol use
- Choosing to drink over other obligations
- New or worsening financial, legal, or medical problems related to alcohol use
Even if your loved ones’ drinking may seem mild, it is important to address alcohol use (and abuse) symptoms at a professional alcohol addiction treatment program. When ignored or overlooked, alcohol abuse can lead to dangerous and even fatal consequences.
When you struggle with a drinking problem and are ready to get sober, the safest and most effective way to meet your sobriety goals is to seek help at an alcohol rehab like Twilight Recovery. As part of alcohol addiction treatment, our team of medical and mental health providers will provide the support and guidance you need at all stages of your recovery process. Depending on your unique treatment needs, the first step on your journey to recovery may be detox and withdrawal. By choosing professionally supported detox services, you enhance the opportunity for positive treatment outcomes. We are here to support you through the most challenging days of withdrawal when relapse risk is at its highest. Once detox is complete, our therapy providers will help you learn and practice the tools and skills necessary to manage relapse triggers in the future.
If you are ready to put struggles with alcohol in the past and would like to learn more about how rehab at Twilight Recovery can help, contact our admissions team today.