What are the Effects and Causes of Alcohol Addiction?
Table of Contents
- What are the Effects and Causes of Alcohol Addiction?
- Causes of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
- How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Alcohol?
- The Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Alcohol Overdose Signs and Symptoms
- Recognizing the Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
- Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Treating Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
- The Importance of Medical Detox In Treating Alcohol Addiction
- Counseling for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
- FAQs on The Effects and Causes of Alcohol Addiction
- Find Alcohol Treatment Programs Today!
- Medically Reviewed By
Alcohol can impact the human body with only one sip. While one glass per day won’t do much harm, drinking excessively could have a significant negative effect and can be one of the causes of alcohol addiction as well as other harmful side effects.
Keep reading to learn more about the effects and causes of alcohol addiction, and how you can get help to stop drinking and achieve long-lasting sobriety today!
Causes of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
So, what causes alcohol problems? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are many causes of alcohol use disorders, including social, psychological, genetic, and environmental elements.
These factors can all impact how alcohol can affect both behavior and the body. Certain people are at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. Over time, drinking too much alcohol could lead to an inability to control behavior.
Early Exposure to Drinking
Drinking at an early age can be a major cause of future addictive habits. The younger a person is when beginning to drink, particularly binge drinking, the higher the likelihood of addiction. For example, those who start binge drinking in their teens have a higher risk of developing alcohol addiction in their 20s and 30s.
Genetic Factors and Family History
The risk for alcohol dependency rises for people who have a parent or another close family member diagnosed with an addiction to alcohol. This could mean there is a genetic link between family members.
Depression and Mental Health
Another risk factor for alcohol dependency includes depression. Alcohol and depression can sometimes go hand-in-hand. In general, certain mental health disorders can increase the likelihood that a person will abuse alcohol.
Along with depression, people with psychological issues such as anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder can commonly end up with an alcohol dependency problem.
Culture and Social Life
Environmental factors can also play a significant role in alcohol-related issues and drinking habits. Often, having close friends or a spouse that drinks regularly increases your risk of developing alcohol dependence. Parents, peers, and family members can all have an impact on whether you drink responsibly or not.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Alcohol?
There is no simple answer to determine how long it takes for someone to end up with an addiction to alcohol. It may take weeks or years depending on the person. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some typical symptoms of alcoholism include the following:
- Inability to quit drinking
- Difficulty reducing the level of alcohol intake
- Incapable of controlling how much you drink
- Continuing to drink even though it is harming your relationships at home and at work
- Stopping other activities or hobbies in order to drink
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms if suddenly stopping alcohol intake
Often, these symptoms and addiction itself can come when people least expect it. You may think you’re only drinking to relieve stress or have a good time with friends. However, you may find out that only two or three weeks of heavy drinking could lead to alcohol addiction.
The Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive drinking, especially when done over a long period of time, can have various health consequences and long-term health risks. The most immediate risks of alcohol abuse are the physical health risks that come with this, including:
- High blood pressure
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Impaired brain function
- Digestive problems
Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, prolonged exposure to alcohol can cause pancreatic digestive enzymes to act abnormally and lead to inflammation, which is referred to as pancreatitis. Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk of chronic liver inflammation and liver disease as well as frontal lobe damage during long-term exposure.
Drinking in excess can also lead to increased risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex, which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy. Additionally, those who drink heavily tend to develop a dependency on alcohol and, thereafter, become addicted to it.
Overall, there are a number of adverse side effects that can occur from both short and long-term alcohol abuse. If you are experiencing any of these side effects and have a drinking problem, seeking out professional help will be your best option for getting sober and leading a healthier lifestyle.
Alcohol Overdose Signs and Symptoms
Alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning, is a condition that occurs when you drink more than your body is able to handle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated six people die from alcohol poisoning every day in the US.
Alcohol poisoning can cause serious adverse side effects, including brain damage, seizures, coma, and even death. With the serious nature of this side effect of excessive alcohol consumption, knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an alcohol overdose can be life-saving.
What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?
Some of the most common side effects of alcohol poisoning can include confusion and disorientation, loss of consciousness, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, pale or blue-tinted skin, unresponsiveness, and hypothermia.
If you notice any of these behaviors in yourself or a loved one after drinking alcohol, it is important to seek emergency medical attention immediately. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency, and can be life-threatening if not addressed properly and quickly.
Recognizing the Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
Are you addicted to alcohol? There are various signs that can determine whether or not you are addicted to alcohol. If any of the symptoms below sound like something you’ve faced, it may be time to seek professional help in order to treat this problem before it progresses and harms your life any further.
- Binge drinking and blacking out or forgetting the day/night before.
- Relationship problems due to your drinking.
- Drinking more than you initially wanted to.
- Feeling shame or guilt when it comes to your drinking.
- Hiding your drinking habits from others.
- Craving a drink in order to feel better or reduce stress.
- Neglecting your responsibilities at the office due to your drinking, i.e. missing work if you are drunk or hungover.
- Drinking and driving or using alcohol in other dangerous situations.
- Facing legal problems due to your drinking, i.e. disorderly conduct charges or driving while under the influence.
If you have faced any of these problems, or if you find yourself suffering from withdrawal symptoms after you stop drinking alcohol, seeking professional help is extremely important to improve your overall well-being.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can even be life-threatening. They can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for an extended period of time suddenly stops their alcohol use.
The severity of these withdrawal symptoms can vary based on several factors, including the amount and duration of the person’s alcohol abuse, and their individual biological and chemical makeup.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include shaking, sweating, nausea, headaches, rapid heartbeat, fever, and body aches. While less common, more severe symptoms such as seizures and delirium tremens can occur as well, which is why those recovering from an alcohol use disorder are encouraged to seek professional help.
With this extensive set of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, many people will develop uncomfortable psychological side effects as well. These may include severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, and even hallucinations.
Treating Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people around the world. This chronic disease can have devastating impacts on not just the addicted individual, but their family members, friends, and communities. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to help struggling individuals overcome their addictions and lead healthier lifestyles.
The first step in treating alcohol addiction is to recognize that you have a problem and accept that you need help. Being honest with your doctor or healthcare provider about your substance abuse can help you take the first step in finding treatment that will work for you.
Creating a Personalized Treatment Plan
The next step will be to seek out an addiction specialist and start building an individualized treatment plan that specifically caters to your recovery needs. This should include your recovery goals and strategies for how you will be able to achieve these.
There are several treatment options available to help those struggling with alcohol abuse, including medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, counseling, medications, and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Depending on the severity and duration of your addiction, all of these options can be effective tools to combat your drinking pattern and start helping you build healthier and more sustainable living habits.
The Importance of Medical Detox In Treating Alcohol Addiction
For those recovering from alcohol abuse and addiction, their early treatment process will need to begin with a medically-supervised detox. When recovering through detox treatment centers, you will be gradually weaned off your alcohol intake while under constant supervision from a team of licensed medical professionals.
This can help to significantly minimize and even prevent you from experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe. Medical detox will also help establish a solid foundation for long-term recovery and receiving ongoing support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction and withdrawal, it is important to seek medical help immediately. The recovery process from alcohol abuse can be dangerous and even life-threatening. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to recover from alcohol abuse and lead a healthier, happier life.
Counseling for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Counseling and behavioral therapies, in particular, can be very beneficial for helping you to understand your addiction and its contributing factors. For example, many people who drink excessively do so to cope with their anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems.
As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), those struggling with a substance use disorder are very likely to struggle with additional chronic diseases. It is for this reason that they will need to seek out a comprehensive recovery program that can offer both clinical and holistic care.
FAQs on The Effects and Causes of Alcohol Addiction
Is Drinking Alcohol Dangerous?
When consumed in moderation, it is generally not considered dangerous to drink alcohol. However, moderate drinking can quickly turn into excessive alcohol use. When drinking more alcohol than is generally recommended, especially if this is done on a regular basis, you will be at risk of becoming alcohol dependent and experiencing harmful consequences to your health.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
Everyone’s tolerance to alcohol can vary based on a variety of factors, including their biological makeup, sex, and other components. Generally, however, the NIAAA defines moderate drinking as having no more than two drinks in one day for men, and no more than one alcoholic beverage in a day for women.
What is Considered Binge Drinking?
Having five or more drinks in a short period of time is referred to as binge drinking, and can cause serious health problems. When people drink an excessive amount of alcoholic beverages in one instance, this can cause a number of health risks including alcohol poisoning.
Can I Detox From Alcohol By Myself?
Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous, and should not be attempted without medical supervision and support. Treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction will usually include medication, counseling, and support groups, amongst several other levels of care.
Find Alcohol Treatment Programs Today!
Alcohol addiction is a widespread problem, which is why there are countless nationwide rehabilitation programs and professionals that can help people who are struggling with alcoholism.
The Find Addiction Rehabs team can assist in helping you find the right treatment facility and great resources to defeat your addiction to alcohol. Call our 24-hour helpline now and take the first step on your path to long-lasting sobriety, today!
Rachael Goldstein has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years, having written for Find Addiction Rehabs for the past two years. She specializes in writing about the law, mental health, psychology, and addiction. She is the owner and author of the website www.addicted-to-sobriety.com. Rachael is also a licensed attorney in the state of Pennsylvania.