The stereotype of someone addicted to alcohol is a person who always drinks in excess and as a result, their life is crumbling. However, the reality is some people are functioning or high-functioning alcoholics, which means even though they depend on and abuse alcohol, they have the appearance of being fine. Though you may know problem drinking as alcoholism or alcohol abuse, addiction to alcohol is officially referred to as alcohol use disorder, an addiction that is estimated to affect 15 million people in the United States. At Soba Recovery, we feel receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder is critical to success in overcoming it, but the first step toward treatment is identifying the problem.
Identifying an Alcohol Addiction
The signs of alcohol use disorder vary from person to person, but some common red flags in assessing whether you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder include:
- Needing alcohol to relax or feel confident
- Drinking when you are alone or in secrecy
- Feeling hungover when not drinking
- Drinking more or longer than you intended
- Losing friends or having relationship problems due to drinking
- Drinking or being sick from drinking interferes with taking care of your family, working or attending school
- Experiencing short-term memory loss or temporary blackouts
- Feeling irritable or having extreme mood swings
- Having legal problems related to drinking
- Denying drinking or getting angry when confronted about drinking
If you or a loved one is exhibiting these symptoms their drinking may be cause for concern. Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe and the urgency for treatment depends on the amount and severity of the symptoms displayed, though recovery is possible regardless of the severity.
How Is Alcohol Addictive?
Though alcohol is legal, it can still be a dangerous substance with serious side effects. One of these is the addictive qualities of alcohol which keeps people coming back for more and consuming it in unhealthy amounts. Alcohol is a chemical that causes our brains to release endorphins, making us feel more content and less sensitive to pain, associating these pleasurable sensations with drinking can encourage us to keep drinking even when we know it can harm us. In addition to the chemical reaction alcohol causes, we often tend to socially and in our own lives associate alcohol with positive stimuli, like having a glass of wine after a long day or getting beers with friends. When we make alcohol a reward or a treat that we use to socialize and celebrate, we create positive associations with it. Alcohol dependency doesn’t happen all at once, but rather over time as our brains are trained to crave the endorphin release of alcohol.
- An individual’s personality and genetics might make them predisposed to alcohol use disorder as well.
- Thrill seekers have a greater risk of addiction to alcohol because they seek the endorphin rush alcohol offers.
- Shy individuals are also prime candidates for developing alcohol use disorder because alcohol can help alleviate social anxiety and an individual can get addicted to or reliant on that effect.
What Happens When You Quit Drinking Alcohol
Quitting drinking can be daunting because physical alcohol withdrawal is particularly tough on the body. However, there are many benefits of stopping drinking:
- Improved heart and liver health
- Lower blood pressure
- Elevated self-esteem
- Better sleep quality
- Increased ability to concentrate
- Improved focus on relationships and work
- Lower cancer risks
- Strengthened immune system
How to Get Help For Alcohol Abuse
If you think you are struggling with alcohol use disorder or are not sure if you have a problem or not please contact Soba Recovery today. We have professionals who can assess your situation and help determine what kind of treatment is suitable for your individual needs. Our two locations in Texas and Arizona are both amazing options for anyone struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse.