Alcohol addiction is a disease.
The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water and can make the person feel as though the substance is their only source of survival. Recent advances have revolutionized our understanding of drug abuse and alcohol addiction and have provided alcohol addiction treatment options that have shown promising success toward promoting recovery.
Signs and Factors of Alcohol Addiction
There are many myths about alcohol addiction, such as the mistaken belief that the alcoholic “can’t hold his drink” or “can’t keep a job.” However, the irony is that the alcoholic often consumes and tolerates far more alcohol than others without showing intoxication. This tolerance can be an important sign of alcohol addiction.
Other factors include
- The effect of the substance on the person’s life
- The need to use increasing amounts
- What happens when the person uses
- Preoccupation with the substance
Alcohol-related concerns generally surface in one of three ways:
- Risk-related drinking
The person may drink excessively on occasion
- Alcohol abuse
Impairments or problems occur related to the use; however physical dependency is not present
- Alcohol addiction or dependence
Tolerance, withdrawal, problems controlling use, and using alcohol despite very serious consequences (such as family devastation, job loss, serious medical problems, financial problems, legal involvement, etc.) occurs
A chronic and typically progressive disease, alcohol addiction is partially explained by genetic factors. However, many things in an individual’s environment can also contribute to the development of alcohol addiction (such as stress, trauma, etc.). Although genetics and environment are contributing factors, not everyone who has the ‘right’ genetic makeup (such as a family history of alcohol addiction) or certain environmental stressors will develop this disease.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is very treatable.
Scientists continue to make advances in medications and alcohol addiction treatment programs that help reduce cravings, control withdrawal and reduce the likelihood of relapse. A combination of these medications, as appropriate with the right alcohol addiction treatment and therapies, has demonstrated excellent effectiveness in controlling the symptoms of this disease.
While there is no current cure, we continue to make excellent headway in developing treatments and designing alcohol addiction treatment programs that help people live sober, healthy and happy lives!
Substance dependence is suspected when alcohol use is accompanied by signs of several of the following:
- Substance Abuse
- Tolerance (needing to drink more to get the same effect)
- Withdrawal (symptoms range from mild anxiety or tremors to insomnia, hallucinations, nausea, seizures, delirium tremens, etc., that occur in the absence of using the substance)
- Increased use
- Inability to cut down
- Extensive time spent to obtain, use or recover from the substance
- Important activities are given up or reduced because of the substance
- Continued use despite problems resulting from the substance (e.g., continued drinking despite an ulcer)