In this section, will explore the topic of alcohol addiction. You may have taken your drinking too far and found you’re in a state of helplessness. You could be a heavy drinker and you’re not sure if you’re an ‘alcoholic’ or not. The term is likely a ‘label’ you do not want to embrace, and more importantly one you do not want to identify with. Learning about how we classify this ‘behavioural disorder’ (sorry, another ‘label’ you may want to avoid) shall be the first step to recovery. Educating our clients is a top priority in our humble opinion.
Once you have read the sections below you may be ready to call Cassiobury Court to start your journey into sobriety.
Here we explore the typical signs and symptoms associated with alcohol addiction along with withdrawal symptoms and some tips for surviving the withdrawal process. We additionally explore the concept of 'alcoholism as disease' theory and whether an alcoholic can permissibly drink in moderation.
The truth is most people find it difficult to determine whether they’ve crossed the potentially deadly line into addiction territory. Drinkers tend to genuinely like drinking alcohol and have fond memories around the bottle. In many cases, denial is the first hurdle that needs overcoming to get on the road to recovery, which we shall explore fully below.
The definition of alcohol addiction
Alcohol addiction is a disease. Specifically, alcohol addiction is a chronic disease of the mind. Alcohol addiction is characterised by a dependency on alcohol. This dependency is habitual and largely involuntary. Alcohol addiction negatively impacts the sufferer's life in many ways. This includes job loss, a deterioration in physical health and even death. Alcoholism affects millions of people across the globe. Around two million people are believed to perish from alcohol addiction each year across all countries. The country most affected by alcohol addiction is Belarus, whilst the country least affected by alcohol addiction is Kuwait.
Alcohol addiction is a bona fide psychiatric disorder. Alcohol addiction is known as 'alcohol use disorder' in DSM-5. DSM-5 lists a number of criteria for diagnosing alcohol addiction. This criterion includes: tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, unsuccessful efforts to cut down, time is spent recovering from the effects of alcohol, social and occupational pursuits are given up to use alcohol.
Alcohol addiction versus dependence
Alcohol addiction and alcohol dependency are often used interchangeably. However, alcohol addiction and alcohol dependency are distinct from one another. Alcohol addiction is a disease of the mind, and professional treatment is usually in order to help the sufferer overcome this deliberating disorder. When a person suffers from alcohol addiction, he or she is seldom about to control the impulse to continue to drink alcohol. When this person stops using alcohol, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms and powerful cravings to continue drinking alcohol.
Alcohol addiction is physical as well as psychological in nature. This means when a person suffering from alcohol addiction attempts to stop drinking alcohol, he or she will begin to suffer from a range of physical withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, hallucination and seizure.
Alcohol dependency solely refers to the physical characteristics of alcohol addiction. This includes a tolerance to drinking alcohol and the physical withdrawal symptoms experienced when the person attempts to stop drinking alcohol. These withdrawal symptoms are collectively known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome is potentially life threatening and it's recommended those going through this process undergo a detox programme at a residential rehab facility.
What drives an alcohol addiction?
Know you have gained an appreciation of alcohol addiction, you may wonder what causes alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction is generally caused by a combination of factors. These factors include social factors, environmental factors, genetic factors and mental factors. These factors must generally be combined with one another for alcohol addiction to arise.
Mental causes of alcohol addiction include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and bipolar disorder. People suffering from these mental health issues are known to 'self-medicate' with alcohol. Alcohol allows sufferers to numb the negative feelings associated with these common mental health problems.
Is alcohol addiction hereditary?
Hereditary disposition does indeed cause or at least significantly contributes to the rise of alcohol addiction. In a nutshell, if close family members suffer from alcohol addiction, you too are more likely to develop the disorder yourself. This is because our DNA largely dictates are behaviour. DNA thus gives rise to a genetic disposition for alcohol addiction.
Why is alcohol addiction a disease?
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol addiction is largely involuntary and it is considered a disease. In the USA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that alcohol addiction is a diagnosable medical condition. Those of us suffering from alcohol addiction should not be considered morally blameworthy for their condition. The concept of alcohol addiction as a disease was initially proposed by Swedish Physician Magnus Huss in the 1800s. The concept was further refined by E. M. Jellinek in the mid-1900s. He published a book in 1942 titled 'Alcohol Addiction and Chronic Alcoholism".
When should I consider going to rehab?
If you suspect you suffer from alcohol addiction, you should consider going to rehab as soon as is practically possible. Delaying the decision to go to rehab will merely serve to inflict even graver damage to your existence by the hands of your addiction to alcohol.
Below, we have issued some guidelines in assisting your decision to seek alcohol addiction treatment at a residential rehab provider:
- Your drinking makes you feel remorseful and you often don’t remember what you have done or said when under the influence of alcohol
- You cannot stop continuing to drink after you have consumed your first drink
- You continue to drink despite the fact your drinking negatively impacts most areas of your life e.g. the socially and occupationally
- You have failed to stop drinking despite your best efforts
If you relate to the above guidelines, the time has probably come for you to overcome denial about your addiction to alcohol and finally seek out professional help. The sooner you seek out treatment, the better your chances of succeeding in your recovery.