As the alcohol statistics suggest, this disease should be taken seriously if we want to save lives.
Part of solving this issue is knowing the most common causes of alcohol abuse. Learning about the effects of alcohol on the brain and body can also help. If you or someone you love is affected by alcohol dependence, here’s what to know.
What Is Alcoholism?
There are many names for the condition that describe being addicted to alcohol. They include alcoholism, alcohol dependence, and alcohol abuse. And as you’ll find if you get alcohol addiction treatment or talk to any drug and alcohol counselor, it’s now often referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD).
No matter what you call it, reliance on alcohol means you drink so much your body is addicted. When you’re addicted to alcohol, you treat it like the most important thing in your life, despite its negative effects.
If you’re not sure if you’re addicted, check out these symptoms:
- You can’t limit the number of drinks you have
- You drink in secret or alone
- You crave alcohol
- You often suffer from alcohol blackout where you can’t remember what happened
- You miss school or work often due to drinking
- You neglect personal hygiene
- You feel irritable when you can’t drink
- You’ve given up hobbies so you can drink more
- You drink despite this habit worsening your health, financial, or legal situation
- You keep drinking even after dealing with alcohol related social problems
- You need to drink more than before to feel buzzed
- You experience nausea, vomiting, alcohol shakes, or sweating when you don’t drink
If any of these symptoms of alcoholism apply to you, you need help. An alcohol intervention could save your life.
Even if you only relate to a few of these symptoms, you may still benefit from talking to a drug and alcohol addiction counselor. You may be a functioning alcoholic. This means you can keep your job and hide your alcohol dependence from most people. But this isn’t good for your mental or physical health, so you owe it to yourself to get treatment.
Common Causes of Alcoholism
If you think you’re addicted, you might be wondering why. Is alcoholism genetic? Or is your biological dependence on this substance due to another issue? To get some answers, take a look at the main causes of alcohol abuse.
Among the most common causes is genetics. If a parent or other family member is addicted to alcohol, your risk of this addiction is increased. Note that there’s no single gene that causes alcoholism, but rather dozens of them.
These genes affect how likely you are to be addicted, how quickly your body breaks down alcohol, how bad your hangovers are, and more. Given how many genes related to alcohol, it’s no wonder the biological theory of addiction hints that genetics play a big role.
Mental Health Conditions
Another factor that can cause alcohol abuse is mental illness. If you have depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or a similar condition, you’re more likely to abuse alcohol.
This is because many people find it easy to turn to this substance when they’re stressed or sad. They’re often hoping alcohol will solve the problem. At the very least, the feeling many people get from alcohol gives them a temporary escape from reality. This can cause a psychological addiction to this drug.
Even those who don’t have a mental illness may turn to alcohol to reduce stress. For instance, people who have stressful jobs or are going through hard situations might use alcohol to cope.
Of course, ending up with a psychological dependence on alcohol can make life more stressful in the long run. This is why it’s better to use other stress relief methods, such as taking walks, meditating, or doing yoga.
Your surroundings also have an effect on whether you end up addicted to alcohol. If you live in an area where alcohol is cheap and easy to get, you’re more likely to drink. This is especially the case if a lot of people around you drink.
In fact, this is a big factor in social drinking. You’re more likely to feel pressured to drink when your friends, family, or coworkers drink. This is especially apparent in college students, who are often surrounded by people who abuse alcohol. About 20% of college students suffer from alcohol abuse disorder, due to the many social alcoholic situations they go through.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse
No matter what factors led you to start abusing alcohol, it’s important to get help. This is because alcohol abuse can lead to consequences. And since the physical and psychological effects of alcohol abuse can be deadly, you shouldn’t ignore them.
Some of the most common effects of alcohol abuse include:
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Heart problems
- Weaker bones
- Damage to brain cells
- Memory loss
- Increased risk of cancer
- Weakened immune system
These effects can be devastating to the alcoholic brain and body, sometimes leading to permanent disability or death. So if you want the best chance to avoid the physical, mental, and social effects of alcohol, it’s time to get help.
Treatment for Alcoholism
As you can see, alcoholism is too serious to ignore. If you’re suffering from this addiction, you deserve to get help right away from professionals who understand the details of alcohol psychology and addiction in general. Otherwise, you could end up with lifelong health problems or a shorter life expectancy altogether.
That’s why we encourage you to come to Bedrock Recovery Center for help. We offer a variety of therapies and workshops that we’ll include in a treatment plan meant to address your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more!