Is Alcohol Really Addictive?

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Alcohol is a popular substance all over the world. It is consumed at weddings, parties, and in homes. It is said to help a person feel more relaxed and to relieve stress. However, there are also risks associated with drinking alcohol, including loss of coordination and impaired decision-making ability. 

Still, many people believe they can control the amount of alcohol they consume and how often, eliminating their risk of addiction. Is alcohol addictive for everyone?

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Yes, alcohol is addictive. Anytime you consume an alcoholic beverage, you run the risk of encountering side effects, and if you drink alcohol regularly, you are at risk of addiction. 

Why Is Alcohol Addictive?

There are numerous factors that contribute to a person becoming addicted to alcohol. Some are physiological and others are psychological. It’s important to understand the risks and causes of addiction in order to drink responsibly or to know when to avoid drinking at all. 

Social Drinking

Alcohol is often present at parties and included in games. It is used at weddings for toasting the happy couple. It often accompanies meals at restaurants. Alcohol shows up for holidays, watching sports, and backyard BBQs. If you find yourself in a season filled with events, you may be consuming more alcohol than you realize.

Confidence Boost

Another common reason people consume alcohol is to help them overcome fears, especially in social settings. When drinking, many people feel relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as lowered inhibitions and increased confidence. Those who frequently experience these symptoms and use alcohol to “treat” them are likely to develop a dependency over time.

Chemical Changes

Consuming alcohol releases dopamine and endorphins in the brain, which can numb feelings of pain and create the illusion of pleasure. It also impairs decision-making abilities and impulse control. Many people drink to ease pain or escape problems temporarily. This numbing feeling and false pleasure can also become addicting, especially when alcohol is used as a main coping mechanism.

How Does the Body Become Dependent on Alcohol?

A person’s genetic make-up may influence the likelihood of developing an addiction to alcohol. In some cases, the brain will release a higher dose of dopamine and endorphins for some drinkers than it does for others. However, this is not the sole reason a person’s body becomes addicted.

The main chemical reason why alcohol is addictive is that repeated use can actually make changes to your brain chemistry and the way it functions. Reward and pleasure centers are unnaturally triggered and overloaded, causing cravings and an increased desire to repeat those intense happy feelings.

Which Stage of Alcoholism Is Most Difficult to Recover From?

Late-stage alcoholism is the most difficult to recover from. This is because the addiction has taken control and has become a factor in nearly all decisions and impulses. At this point, there is always alcohol in the system, which depletes nutrients and impairs immunity. It can also lead to organ failure and affect job performance and personal relationships. Withdrawal symptoms can occur more easily and more intensely, including: 

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures 

An attempt to avoid these symptoms can cause a person to seek relief—once again, with the use of more alcohol.

Addiction Help From Summit Malibu

If you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol, the best course of action is to get help from a professional. Combining therapy and assistance from trained medical professionals with your recovery plan can be safer and is more effective. Typically, there are emotional or mental health reasons behind drinking, as well as chemical dependency, and both need to be addressed. 

Contact Summit Malibu for more information about why alcohol is addictive and how we can help you. We accept most insurance carriers and can let you know what is covered through your provider.