While it can be safe to drink in moderation, alcohol abuse or misuse comes with serious and potentially fatal risks, including overdose, illness and addiction. In 2019-2020, almost a million people in the UK were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related incidents.
Despite these dangers, alcohol continues to be cheap, legal, and easily accessible with little regulation. As a nation, we are drinking now more than ever, ignoring how easily alcohol consumption can get out of hand.
If you or a loved one is living with alcohol addiction, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Your addiction is not your fault, and there is plenty of help and support to guide you to recovery.
What is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction is when you continue to crave and drink alcohol, despite any negative consequences. It’s characterised by physical changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop or reduce alcohol use without adequate support.
However, with long-term support and compassionate care, anyone can overcome alcohol addiction and achieve lasting recovery.
Alcohol addiction is surrounded by stigma and misconception. Many people feel ashamed about it and hide their struggles from others. As a consequence, these misconceptions become barriers for individuals to receive the support they need.
If you’re living with an addiction to alcohol, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. The physical nature of addiction makes it hard to overcome it with willpower alone. Alcohol addiction is not a choice but a medical condition that requires compassion and care.
How does alcohol addiction affect the brain?
When you drink alcohol repeatedly, it interacts with a pathway in the brain known as the reward system. This is a normal and healthy part of how the brain works, which helps us form positive habits like eating, drinking water, and spending time with loved ones.
When we engage in one of these activities, our body releases a small amount of dopamine. This alters the way brain cells connect along the reward pathway, making us want to do that activity again.
Drinking alcohol hijacks this process, as it causes the release of dopamine in much larger quantities. This leads to developing compulsive behaviours and strong urges (cravings) to drink alcohol that are typical of addictions.
How does alcohol dependence work?
Alcohol dependence refers to physiological adaptations in response to the long-term presence of alcohol in your body. When someone with alcohol dependence suddenly stops using alcohol, they usually experience various withdrawal symptoms as their body readjusts.
Causes of alcohol addiction
While alcohol addiction expresses itself as excessive drinking and alcohol misuse, it’s not rooted in drinking itself. It’s a consequence or symptom of underlying issues, like difficult emotions, distressing thoughts, or negative experiences that drive people towards alcohol abuse.
Identifying the root causes of alcoholism isn’t always straightforward. Each individual has their own story, and many people’s addictions grow from a complex interplay of factors. Some use alcohol to cope with mental health disorders like anxiety or depression, as it may offer a temporary escape from reality. Others may want to fill a void or longing for meaning developed from childhood trauma or neglect.
Whatever the roots of your alcoholism, recovery involves unearthing and overcoming these causes. You’ll need to begin the healing process while learning new and healthier methods of managing your thoughts, behaviours and emotions.
Oasis Bradford’s rehab treatment will guide you through this process with sensitivity and expertise. We’ll use evidence-based methods to help you address underlying issues and learn necessary and lasting new skills. We know what you need to achieve life-long recovery and are ready to show you the way.
What are the risk factors of alcohol addiction?
At Bradford Oasis Recovery, we know that alcohol addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or social standing. We’ve treated individuals from all walks of life, including students, business professionals, and new parents.
However, some risk factors contribute to developing alcoholism. These include:
- Exposure to early life adversity, such as childhood trauma and neglect
- Drinking alcohol during adolescence
- Growing up in a home with alcohol addiction
- Experiencing trauma
- Lack of access to or ineffectiveness of social support systems
Inequalities in infrastructure and social services means that poorer communities are often hit hardest by alcohol abuse. Inaccessible, expensive, and underfunded services can stop those who need them from receiving the support they deserve. Studies show that the most socially and economically deprived decile have almost twice the rate of alcohol-related mortality than the least deprived.
How can you recognise alcohol addiction in yourself or others?
Recognising that you are living with alcohol addiction and accepting the need for help is the first step towards a healthier life. If you’re worried about your or your loved one’s alcohol use, it’s important to know some of the signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
However, addiction is a multi-faced condition that can manifest in hidden and unexpected ways. If you have any concerns about your or someone else’s alcohol abuse, you may want to contact a mental health professional for expert advice.
Some of the behavioural, psychological, and social signs of alcoholism include:
- Losing control over the amount you consume in a drinking session
- Being preoccupied with the thought of alcohol
- Drinking to the point of blacking out or so that you cannot remember the night before
- Continuing to drink despite any negative consequences: health issues, relationship breakdowns, loss of jobs, strained finances, depression or another recognised mental health illness
- Trying to hide the true extent of your drinking from others to avoid being questioned or challenged
- Feeling unable to imagine a life without alcohol
- Feeling ill at ease, agitated, anxious, restless, uncomfortable in your own skin without alcohol, or without purpose and empty
- Setting yourself goals around controlling your drinking but being unable to stick to them
- Neglecting home or work responsibilities as a result of your alcohol use
- Developing withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, nervousness, nausea or vomiting when not drinking
Alcohol, our families, and our communities
Alcohol abuse and addiction can significantly affect your mental and physical wellbeing, as alcohol becomes your life’s priority and puts you at risk of falling ill.
However, the harm that alcohol abuse causes may reach far beyond the individual. It can strain relationships between loved ones and increase the chance of relationship instability, dissatisfaction, and abuse. It can affect children’s emotional development, impacting how they see themselves, the world, and others.
At Oasis Bradford, we aim to help loved ones heal their relationships and build a strong and stable support system for long-term recovery.
Alcohol addiction support at Oasis Bradford
We understand that alcohol addiction recovery is a life-long process that may lead to relapse. That’s why we offer lifetime aftercare to support you after you leave the centre, including access to on-site workshops. Our recovery experience begins with an inpatient medical detox for alcohol to safely guide you through withdrawal and pave the way for long-term addiction therapies.
Begin your recovery journey to sobriety today
If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, remember that you’re not alone. Every day, people successfully make the journey from alcoholism to lasting sobriety. Contact us today to follow in their footsteps.