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Many people enjoy a drink without it leading to an addiction. People who have developed a more serious problem with alcohol use may shy away from thinking of themselves as addicts; after all, alcohol is a legal substance and readily available to adults.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
The line between having a few drinks as part of a social experience and having an addiction to alcoholic beverages comes down to whether drinking is something you "have" to do as opposed to something that you "want" to do. A person who enjoys a drink controls their consumption and in the case of an alcoholic, the drinking controls them.
There are several reasons why someone may become addicted to alcohol. The alcoholic may be looking for the "high" that drinking gives them and must continue to drink larger amounts to recreate that experience. Other people with alcohol dependency issues are looking for a way to numb out to deal with stress, personal issues, or emotional pain. It's no surprise that alcoholism tends to run in families, since we learn a lot about how to cope with circumstances in our lives from seeing the way our parents and other family members do so. Having a parent or a close relative who has an addiction issue increases your risk of having one as well.
Part of the reason that someone may start drinking is to feel more comfortable in social situations, since it helps to reduce inhibitions. As the person drinks more alcohol, they may feel more talkative, as well as a bit dizzy. As more alcoholic drinks are consumed, the person's speech may become slurred, and they may become aggressive. It's no coincidence that use of alcohol is often linked to violent acts.
If someone continues to use alcohol to excess for an extended amount of time, they are running the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver as well as brain damage in the form of memory loss. Drinking more than a moderate amount has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. (Keep in mind that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in North America.)
The first step in getting on the wagon (and staying there) is to get sober, whether of your own volition or through the drug rehab intervention efforts of family and friends. If you have been drinking for some time, you will likely go through physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to get off booze. These symptoms may include hallucinations, headaches, seizures, shaking, and vomiting. Going through medically-supervised detox is the first step, since you need to rid your body of alcohol before you can move forward to understanding and dealing with your addiction in the rehabilitation stage.
Alcohol rehab centers offer inpatient care for patients who are starting their recovery journey. Patients examine the reasons they became addicted and learn how to deal with triggering events that may tempt them to start drinking again. Follow-up care on an outpatient basis gives them the support they need to stay sober. Recovery programs such as a 12-step like alcoholics anonymous are frequently relied upon for the long-term recovering addicts support system. Head to our alcohol discussion forum to talk about the effects of drinking and connect with other members who have successfully overcome alcohol addiction.
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