Substance abuse disorder of any sort is deteriorating to one’s mental and physical health, however, there is one type of addiction that hides in plain sight and does the most damage – alcoholism. Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a type of substance abuse disorder where a person gets the uncontrollable cravings to drink alcohol. This form of addiction is a matter of concern because alcohol is legal in most countries across the globe, and people do consume this daily. And even though responsible drinking has its own set of benefits, anything that’s done excessively usually comes with a heavy price to pay.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is a brain disease where the individual gets an unending and unmanageable urge to consume alcohol. Many people are known to binge drink and consume alcohol daily which deteriorates their health to a point where they completely depend on this substance. Mostly, teenagers and young adults are on the more affected side of this disorder, since they are always up for trying something new. Also, the dire need to prove oneself an adult force many teenagers to drink even if they do not want to. This continuous need to prove their adulthood slowly pushes these teenagers to alcoholism without them even realizing it.
Alcohol addiction is also largely related to the habitual aspects of one’s life. For instance, many people like going out for a walk when they are angry, or maybe even read a book. For an individual who’s suffering from alcoholism, their primary choice in any negative event of life would be to turn to alcohol. Sometimes, the person may not even want to drink alcohol but since the brain now depends on this substance, they feel powerless. This inability to stop even though they want to and the uncontrollable urge to drink is known as alcohol addiction.
Alcoholism – Symptoms
When an individual is suffering from alcohol addiction, they experience symptoms which are quite different from what people feel when they are under the influence of other substances such as heroin, cocaine, etc. This is primarily due to the way alcohol interacts with our bodies and mind. However, the factors that can trigger alcohol abuse are countless and depends entirely on the individual.
While most of the alcoholics have stooped neck-deep into addiction after being distressed by any negative situation that may have happened in their life, many just tried drinking once and now they cannot stop. The triggers can vary, but the symptoms are common among the addicts. These are:
- A sudden increase in alcohol consumption.
- Drinking inappropriately or at unusual times such as in the morning or the afternoon.
- Restricting oneself from family members and friends.
- Prioritizing alcohol consumption over any social activity such as hanging out with friends/family.
- Preferring a group of friends who are into drinking.
- Distancing from people who stop them from consuming alcohol.
- Always remaining under the influence of alcohol.
- Encountering depression and other severe mental health problems.
- Lying frequently to loved ones and those who are close.
- Bad physical health and an unhygienic lifestyle.
However, alcohol consumption does not always source from a person’s immaturity to prove themselves an adult. Sometimes, distressing events such as financial crisis, loss of a job, relationship issues, and other mind-disturbing factors can lead to depression. This depression can then force an individual to rely on alcohol to ease their mind and find a sense of peace. However, addicts must understand that in an attempt to gain temporary serenity, they are putting their whole life at risk. If more than 3 of the above symptoms are visible in an individual, it is time to get them medical help.
Alcoholism – Stages of Alcohol Addiction
There are five stages of alcohol addiction, with each stage reflecting the level of addiction in an individual. Closely looking into every stage can give you a broader idea about how slowly addiction engulfs an individual.
Stage 1: Experimental Stage
Everything begins at this phase when a person starts experimenting with alcohol and try different types of drinks. However, not all who experiment with drinks end up being addicted. A considerable number of people quit at the very first stage, never to return. But, many continue this habit, simply to enjoy the feeling of being high.
Stage 2: Frequent Drinking
After the just trying phase is out of the picture, individuals enter frequent drinking mode wherein they begin consuming alcohol on a fixed time. The person may drink due to the daily stresses of life, stay away from boredom, or overcome sadness. This stage pushes an individual more towards becoming an addict.
Stage 3: Pre-symptomatic Alcoholism
This is the stage where the addict begins abusing the drinking, and consume more with thinking that he/she will quit in the future. This negligence towards personal health and the people around elevates to a level where the individual’s behavior affects relationships, isolation, financial crisis, losing friends, and accompanying people with a bad influence.
Stage 4: Extreme Dependence
Individuals who have their addiction increased to a level of extreme dependence find it difficult to perform any job without being under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, if they are separated from alcohol consumption, they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, sweating, body tremors, high heart rate, and aggression.
Stage 5: Alcoholism
Although stage 4 is almost a state of alcoholism, it only reflects a lifestyle change. This stage, however, depicts the psychological and physical dependence of the individuals on alcohol. They need it to function. Drinking is now not about having fun but reflects passion and pride. Even if they want to, they can’t stop drinking now. This is called alcoholism and it demands immediate medical attention.
Alcohol addiction’s severity is extra difficult because this substance is available globally and is not illegal to consume. Though there are age limits in various countries, loopholes are everywhere. These contingencies and the lack of laws on alcohol consumption have increased its global use, with more and more people falling prey to alcoholism including teenagers aged between 12-17 and young adults. And since it is a brain disorder, an effective and immediate treatment is required for those who are suffering. Dodging medical care, thinking it will fade away on its own is only going to make it worse. So if anyone around you is suffering from alcoholism, the first step is to get them the medical help they need.