Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the world. Get help today.
Liquor stores sprout up like weeds in almost every town and city, and many states allow booze to line the shelves of grocery stores and convenience shops. Those who avoid stores that sell liquor might still be asked if they’d like a cocktail or a glass of wine when they head out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, and work-related parties might be filled with waiters who walk by with trays filled to the brim with glasses of all sorts of liquid refreshments.
It can seem as though alcohol is almost everywhere, all the time, and yet, people with alcoholism might feel as though they simply can’t get enough of it. No matter how much they’re served, they may feel as though they always want more.
Alcohol Use Disorder, which includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse, affects over 15 million adults and over 620,000 adolescents in the United States.1 Despite these numbers, alcoholism can be a very isolating disease. Alcohol use disorders often begin gradually, and worsen over time (without treatment). People who struggle with this condition often go to great lengths to hide the problem from others and even from themselves. The first step to recovery is to recognize the problem and seek treatment options.
Alcohol Use Disorder: A Slow and Steady Onset
No one plans to have a problem with alcohol. They might think that they’re drinking to feel calmer, or to deal with social situations, or they might feel as though they could stop drinking at any time. Physiologically, alcohol works within the brain that can lead to a dependent state that may result in an addiction.
Alcohol is a drug that crosses the digestive tract to the bloodstream in mere minutes. One serving of alcohol can slow down electrical activity in the brain, further increasing the relaxation a person might feel. If a person drinks regularly, these slowed brain cells become accustomed to a slower pace, and soon, that person might be incapable of functioning at top speed.
This state is known as dependence, and for those who drink, it’s serious. Once severe alcohol dependence sets in, the brain begins to need alcohol in order to function properly. In late stage alcohol use disorder, a person may even experience seizures, illness, or other medical emergencies without the presence of alcohol.
In many stages of alcohol use disorder, people may experience:
- Blackouts (forgetting large chunks of time)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Some people who have these symptoms feel as though they simply must return to drinking, as the misery they feel is just too hard to ignore.
“Sixteen years ago, at age 38, I left a job, career, and active alcoholism behind,” writes Steve S., at HeroesInRecovery.com. “I entered an outpatient treatment program and found a new life with the same non-using friends and loved ones I had always had in my life.
“I knew it was time for a change when I realized that I was losing the use of my hands and had lost visual depth perception due to nerve damage caused by chronic daily alcoholism.I was entering late stage alcoholism and had drank my way out of a job and knew the last years of late stage alcoholism would be even more painful than the pain I was already finding unbearable.
“My life today is peaceful and content. It is filled with daily physical health, exercise, and personal spirituality. My life is full of friends and loved ones, both “in recovery” and so called “normal drinkers” too.”
From Alcohol Dependence to Addiction
While people who abuse alcohol may have a constant desire for alcohol, those who qualify for an alcoholism diagnosis have symptoms that are yet more severe. These people have lost control over when and how they drink, and they might continue drinking even as their lives begin to unravel around them. Arrests, complaints, ill health, devastated relationships, and even lawsuits might not stop them from picking up the bottle.
It’s commonly believed that people like this continue to drink because they love their substances and can’t live without them. While it’s true that many alcoholics do love the taste of alcohol, many more drink because they have a deep psychological need to do so that transcends any feelings about desire. They must keep drinking, even though they may not even like to drink anymore.
Alcohol problems don’t have to take over your life forever. Black Bear Lodge offers treatment that specializes in alcohol recovery. Our experienced staff and clinicians help patients heal both the physical and emotional wounds caused by alcohol use. Call us today to find out what we can offer you or someone you love.
1 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Use Disorder. Web. Accessed 18 Sept 2017.