Addiction to alcohol is a chronic disease, with its onset in early adulthood. In Europe and North America, the rates of alcohol abuse and addiction are almost the same. People who drink excessively or become addicted to alcohol do so for various reasons. It is important not to unfairly generalize people who drink, especially among adults.
More than half of all Americans over the age of 21 drink to excess at least once a month. But just because most people who drink do so responsibly does not mean that every person who drinks in excess does so irresponsibly. There are many factors that contribute to alcoholism: genetics, family history, personality, stressors in life such as relationship problems or financial hardships, and medical conditions such as diabetes or liver disease can all cause an individual to develop an addiction to alcohol. Alcoholism is a chronic condition that affects almost one out of every 10 people in North America and Europe.
The condition itself is usually irreversible once it takes hold, but addiction can be managed through treatment and support groups if kept under control. While it’s easy to forget sometimes when you’re intoxicated, drinking too much can damage your mental health and put your safety at risk if you’re alone or drunk with the wrong people. So what exactly is alcoholism and how can you tell if you have it? Read on for more information about this dangerous disease and its impact on society.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a progressive condition that develops when people drink excessively. It is a chronic condition that affects almost one out of every 10 people in North America and Europe. A person with alcoholism may become dependent on alcohol over time or develop a full-blown addiction and alcohol use disorder at once.
People who drink excessively may also be called binge drinkers, heavy drinkers, or drinkers. binge refers to the consumption of five or more drinks in a single sitting. Heavy drinking includes consuming more than 15 glasses of wine or 12 cans or bottles of beer in a month. For people under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol is considered binge drinking.
How Does Alcoholism Affect the Body?
Alcohol impairs physical and mental health in many ways. It causes liver damage, increases the risk of cancer, and damages the nervous system. But the most significant effect alcohol has on the body is on the liver. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so it gets into the brain and causes a decrease in the level of dopamine, which is necessary for the transmission of signals between the brain and other organs. When alcohol gets into the body, it is first transformed into a metabolite called acetaldehyde, which is then broken down by the liver into carbon dioxide and water.
Addictive Properties of Alcohol
There are some substances that have the ability to change a person’s brain chemistry in a way that leads to addiction. Alcohol is one of them. People who drink to excess can develop an addiction to alcohol because the chemical imbalance that develops in the brain over time, as alcohol is consumed, results in an excessive desire to drink, alongside the ability to fulfil that desire.
When someone drinks too much alcohol, there are two main brain chemicals that are affected: serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects feelings such as joy, sadness, and pleasure. Dopamine is involved in motivation, reward, and decision-making, so when serotonin and dopamine are low, people experience a craving for alcohol. Both serotonin and dopamine are affected by alcohol, which is why people who drink excessively also have a reduced ability to feel pleasure from other activities such as art, dancing, or religion.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
People who drink to excess often have several physical and psychological symptoms, including nausea and vomiting headaches bad mood depression lack of appetite lack of energy joint pain memory loss confusion
Who Gets Addicted to Alcohol?
People who drink to excess are called heavy alcoholics, alcoholics, or alcohol dependent. Heavy alcoholics are people who consume more than 20 grams of alcohol in a week or about two and a half drinks for an adult. Binge drinking is when you drink more than you thought you should, and is binge drinking at work or in a social setting.
People can become alcohol dependent even without a history of a drinking problem. In fact, people can develop alcohol dependence even when they don’t drink to excess. This is when drinking becomes problematic: either the individual stops drinking because they want to, or the drinking gets out of control and they need help controlling their drinking.
Types of Addiction to Alcohol
There are many types of addiction, and alcohol dependence is not the only type. People can also be addicted to other substances, including Cannabis Opioids (heroin, opium, Vicodin, etc.) Marijuana Methamphetamines (Ecstasy, LSD, Psilocybin, etc.) Heavy drinking is not the only way to show signs of alcohol abuse. Other behaviours, such as: Driving while intoxicated Not using a seatbelt Not wearing a helmet Not keeping an eye on your kids while you’re drinking Not letting medical services get involved Not taking your medication as prescribed
Consequences of Being Addicted to Alcohol
Reckless driving Violent behaviour Long-term effects of alcohol on the body Impaired brain function Impaired immune system Alcoholism is a disease that can be treated. Although treatment usually includes support groups and a healthy diet, it also includes medications to help with withdrawal symptoms.
3 simple steps you can take today to help break your alcoholism
The first step in helping break your alcohol addiction is to recognize it. If you notice a change in your drinking habits, or if you think you might be drinking too much, talk to your doctor.
The second step is to prepare yourself for a recovery journey. Knowing how to handle yourself in an emergency, and having support systems available when you need them, will help you through any situation.
Plan ahead – Set realistic goals for yourself, such as not drinking and driving. This will help you stay focused on your recovery and on staying safe.
Set aside time for alone time – Drink in moderation with friends, but make time for yourself. This is essential for your physical and mental health.
Create a support system – Alcoholism can be a lonely disease, so having friends or family with who you can talk about your drinking is helpful. Make time for them, and don’t stress about drinking for them.
Exercise – Exercise helps both body and mind, so try to get moving. It will help you feel alert and less likely to develop a habit.
Help your kids – Teach them how to use a condom, and teach them how to drink responsibly. This is especially important for younger kids, as they are learning about sex and alcohol at the same time.
Take care of yourself – Make time for yourself, and don’t neglect your health. You need to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally, so you don’t put yourself in a position to become ill or hurt yourself.
Make an informed decision – Be informed about the risks of alcohol and how it affects your body and mind. Learn about the negative side effects of alcohol, like how drinking in a month will put your liver and brain health at risk, and how to evaluate the risks of drinking for a long time.
And don’t be afraid to call a doctor – If you are drinking too much, or if you think you might be drinking too much, get help.
Don’t wait for something to happen to you – Just because you’ve had a few drinks with friends, that doesn’t make you a drunk. Don’t wait for the next time to seek help.
Alcoholism is a disease that affects both individuals and society. People with alcoholism can end up in jail or have family members who use alcohol get involved in illegal activities. Drinking to excess can have serious health consequences, including an increased risk of Alcohol-related diseases Liver disease Cardiovascular disease Type 2 diabetes In addition, moderate to heavy alcohol consumption has also been associated with: Lessened IQ in children Increased divorce Loss of career Decreased educational attainment Decreased longevity Becoming an alcoholic can be a very lonely and difficult journey.
The average person who starts out drinking less than one drink per month will develop a drinking problem. With treatment, most people can live successfully with moderate drinking. However, if you think you are having a problem, seek help.
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