Alcohol is a substance that most people enjoy socially and in moderation. However, not everyone’s use of the substance is harmless. There are those for whom alcohol is a major problem. It is threatening to destroy their lives and leave their family in ruins.
The UK Government recommends that adults drink fourteen units or less of alcohol each week, spread across the entire week. It is also recommended that alcohol-free days are included every week. Anyone drinking above and beyond these guidelines can be classed as misusing alcohol.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead not only to many health problems but it can also significantly increase the risk of addiction. Unfortunately, for many individuals, alcohol use progresses to alcohol abuse and addiction without them even being aware of what has happened. It is not certain how long alcohol addiction can go unnoticed, but because of the way that this substance alters certain structures in the brain, some people are oblivious to the seriousness of their situation.
How Does Alcohol Use Become Alcohol Abuse?
When most individuals begin drinking, they do so occasionally. It may be that they will have a drink when out with friends or family members at the weekend, and they will never drink during the week.
These days though, increasingly more people are choosing to drink at home instead of just when going out to a pub or restaurant. There are those who drink at home with friends before they go out or others who like to have a glass of wine with a meal or when watching TV.
Drinking at home is safe provided it is in moderation. Nevertheless, what often happens is that one glass of wine at the weekend becomes two. Or you begin drinking alcohol during the week instead of just at the weekend. You might start to have a glass of wine every night with dinner but before long that one glass again becomes two, and soon enough you are having fourteen glasses of wine per week when the recommended amount is just six.
Those who drink two glasses of wine a night might not think that it is a problem, but it is likely that their alcohol consumption will continue to increase. The reason alcohol use progresses to alcohol abuse is often down to increased tolerance for alcohol.
With regular alcohol use, the brain and body adjust and get used to the substance. They then change the way in which they respond to it. This means that your brain will release fewer dopamine chemicals when you drink. Now that it has become used to alcohol, it has adjusted how it responds when you drink. But to you, that means you will not feel the same level of warmth or pleasure that you were expecting. Your response may then be to drink more alcohol until you achieve those feelings you desire.
This is a pattern that tends to continue. So increasing your alcohol consumption may indeed achieve the desired feelings, but this is likely to only be temporary – until your brain adjusts to the new level of alcohol. After a while, the higher dose of alcohol will also become less effective in terms of giving you the feelings you desire. And so the cycle continues.
Do You Have an Alcohol Addiction?
Many individuals struggle to accept the fact that they might have an alcohol addiction because they do not even see alcohol as being a harmful substance. Others have no idea how long alcohol addiction has been a factor in their life as they have never tried to quit or even cut back on their consumption.
It is hard to accept that use of a widely available and legal substance such as alcohol could become a problem. Since most adults consume it to some extent, the very idea of having to give it up can be tough for some individuals to deal with, especially if they have come to depend on alcohol for normal functioning.
Nonetheless, if your loved ones have been expressing concerns about your drinking, for example, it would be wise to listen to what they have to say. Most family members and friends will only raise the issue of alcohol abuse and addiction with a loved one if they are completely sure that they are right.
It is important to look at your use of alcohol so that you can determine if you do indeed have a problem that requires help. For example, are you drinking more alcohol now than you used to? Do you drink alcohol to help you get through the day? If so, you might have a problem. Asking yourself the following questions may also give you some idea as to how serious the issue may be:
- Do you regularly drink more than you planned to?
- Do you drink even though you promised yourself or others that you wouldn’t?
- Do you do things under the influence of alcohol that you would never do if sober?
- Do you wake up with little memory of what happened the night before?
- Do you lie to your loved ones about how much you have drunk, or otherwise hide your drinking from those you love?
- Have you stopped spending time with loved ones in favour of drinking?
- Do you arrange your life around events and activities where alcohol will be present?
- Do you get agitated if you have to go somewhere where there will not be any alcohol?
- Is your drinking interfering with your ability to meet commitments and responsibilities at home or work?
If you have answered yes to most of the above questions, it is highly likely that you are addicted to alcohol and need help to get better. You should know that it does not matter that you do not drink every day or that you do not drink as soon as you get up in the morning. Nor does it matter what type of alcohol you drink. If you are unable to control your use of alcohol, you almost certainly have a problem and need treatment.
What is Treatment for Alcoholism Like
Overcoming an addiction to alcohol is never an easy prospect, but with a good programme of detox and rehabilitation, you can say goodbye to alcohol abuse for good. Know though that recovery begins with a detox that aims to break the cycle of abuse.
During this process, you will quit alcohol and allow your brain and body to begin the healing process, where they will naturally attempt to get back to normal. You might experience a range of withdrawal symptoms during the detox, which could be anywhere from mild to severe in intensity. It is not possible to tell which symptoms you will get or how severe these will be before the process begins. It usually depends on how long alcohol addiction has been a problem, how severe the addiction is, and whether you have any underlying mental or physical health problems. Your age can also be a factor in how your detox progresses.
Most people can quit alcohol safely during detox in a matter of seven to ten days, after which time they will be ready to move on to the next stage of the recovery journey – rehabilitation.
Rehab programmes take place in outpatient facilities or private inpatient clinics, and they have the aim of helping patients deal with the underlying issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place. With a plan of care that will contain a mix of traditional behavioural therapies and holistic treatments, you will learn how to avoid a relapse going forward.
For more information on how to overcome alcohol addiction once and for all, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Oasis Bradford. We provide excellent detox and rehabilitation programmes that will help you to put your days of alcohol abuse behind you – hopefully for good. Call today to find out more.