If you’re suffering from alcohol addiction, you’re likely having a tough time. Between feeling hungover most days and trying to stay on top of your responsibilities, it’s exhausting and can take a severe toll on your health. There is a stigma about alcoholism that may lead you to believe you’re weak-willed or choosing to drink too much. These negative beliefs can cause you to hide the amount you drink and be dishonest with those around you as well as yourself.
You may have tried to stop drinking alcohol or to set limits on how much you drink but failed. This is because you’re no longer in control — alcohol is. The good news is that help is out there. With professional support and the drive to get better, you can get back on track to realizing your potential.
Is Alcoholism a Disease?
Yes. Addiction to alcohol is a progressive illness, meaning it gets worse as time goes on. If left untreated, it can result in serious health repercussions and can even be deadly. Often, loved ones who don’t understand this is a disease become frustrated at your seemingly stubborn refusal to stop drinking. Even when you start experiencing consequences like having financial issues, losing a job, failing grades at school or your social life falling apart, you continue to drink.
This is the nature of addiction— a desire to stop and repeated efforts to quit lead back into the same cycle. The only way to break this cycle is to admit that you have a problem and seek guidance from medical professionals. This disease can be treated and brought under control by committing to abstinence. Together with counselors and doctors, you work towards understanding why you became an alcoholic and learning new coping mechanisms to prevent relapses.
What Causes Someone to Become an Alcoholic?
There is nothing simple or straightforward about alcohol addiction. The causes are complex and involve an interaction between your genes and your environment. Research has shown that both of these factors contribute to 50% of your likelihood of developing the disease. Genetic risk factors such as an impulsive personality or an inclination to sensation-seeking behavior play an important role, although not everyone with these traits will go on to develop an alcohol use disorder.
Likewise, environmental factors such as exposure to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes at a young age, family members who suffer from addictions and traumatic events increase your risk of becoming an alcoholic. Nothing dictates that someone is going to get addicted to alcohol, but these risk factors are regularly noted in people who suffer from the illness.
The Risks of Chronic Alcohol Abuse
It’s not only the reward centers, memory and neural pathways in your brain that are damaged when you drink heavily but your entire body too. Ethanol, the active ingredient in your drink, is poisonous to human beings. In small, infrequent doses, the damage is minimal. But repeated and heavy use puts you at risk of a range of diseases, including:
If you feel your use of alcohol is out of control or you’d like more information, you can reach New Day Recovery at 330-953-3300. Our addiction treatment centers span the Northeastern Ohio area, offering hope and healing to Ohio residents from every major city across the state, including Columbus, Parma, Toledo, Akron, Cleveland, Canton, Youngstown and more.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Medically, alcoholism is known as an alcohol use disorder. Everyone displays addiction in different ways, but there are specific giveaways. Due to drinking being socially accepted, alcoholics can become highly adept at hiding their drinking problem. If you’re unsure if your drinking has reached problem levels, consider whether the following could be applied to you.
Not being able to set limits on how much you drink or regularly drinking more than you intended
Spending a disproportionate amount of time getting drunk, recovering from drinking and thinking about alcohol
Finding that you often go out to get more alcohol once you’ve started drinking, in case you run out
Drinking until you pass out
Experiencing regular blackouts
Developing a tolerance so that you need to drink more to obtain the desired effects
Not deriving pleasure from activities you used to enjoy
Intending to cut down or stop drinking but being unable to
Having frequent, strong cravings for alcohol
Failing to keep up with your responsibilities, such as school, finances, work and home life
Continuing to drink in spite of a negative impact on your health, personal life or social life
Using alcohol in situation when it poses a threat to yourself and others
Going through withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea and sweating when you’re not drinking or making sure you can get a drink to avoid these problems