Do you think you may be suffering from alcohol addiction? If so, you’re not alone. In England, it’s estimated that there are 602,391 people who are dependent on alcohol. However, 82% of these people aren’t currently receiving treatment. [i] If you fail to act on your alcohol dependence or your alcohol addiction, then alcoholism could destroy not only your body but your mind and your life.
Addiction to alcohol can be debilitating and can have negative effects on your personal life and your work life, including your family and relationships. [ii] If your alcohol consumption appears to be taking over your life, then the chances are you have a problem.
Likewise, if somebody you know is dependent on alcohol and is experiencing issues in their life due to their drinking, they may have a drinking problem. It is important that you get the help you need if you are struggling to control your alcohol consumption. This is something we can help with at our many Help4Addiction treatment centres. Read on to learn more about alcohol addiction and how Help4Addiction can help you get your alcohol addiction under control.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is widely recognised as a mental and physical illness. Alcoholism is characterised by the need or urge to drink alcohol – even though most people with an addiction to alcohol are aware of the damage that the drinking is doing. People with alcohol addiction are often alcohol abusers and dependent on alcohol.
Not everybody is aware that there is a difference between the two. We’ll talk more about alcoholism and alcohol abuse in the ‘What is Alcohol Abuse?’ section – but the main difference is that dependence is when you feel unable to function without alcohol and alcohol becomes a focal part of life, whereas alcohol abuse is when you continue to drink despite being aware of the issues that may present. Many people who are dependent on alcohol will abuse alcohol and vice versa.
Alcohol dependence not only causes unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms and mental withdrawal symptoms, which can further the urge and desire to drink alcohol. [iii] If you think you are struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s important that you receive the right treatment and support to get the addiction under control and prevent relapse.
Risk Factors for Alcoholism
Although anybody can develop alcohol dependence, there are certain risk factors that can be linked to alcoholism and alcohol abuse. For example, there is abundant evidence that suggests alcoholism can be genetic – with variations in numerous genes that can affect the risk factor.
Some genes that have been identified as increasing the risk of alcoholism and other substances include ALDH2 and ADH1B. [iv] However, there are many more factors that could increase the likelihood of developing alcohol addiction. As well as genetics and family history, a person’s environmental influences can also increase their chances of developing alcohol addiction.
For example, if you grew up with your parents regularly consuming or excessively drinking alcohol, you may have come to an understanding that this is a natural behaviour. [v] Children tend to copy their parents or parent figures, as well as their friends. Peer pressure can increase the risk of developing issues with alcohol – if your friends are drinking too much, then you may also develop alcohol-related problems. [vi] One of the risk factors for alcoholism may include drinking from an early age – more specifically, the age that which you first try alcohol.
A study has suggested that if you drink alcohol before the age of 15, then the likelihood of developing an alcohol addiction may increase. [vii] Those suffering from mental health issues such as depression may increase the chances of developing alcohol addiction. People with low mood and depression may use alcohol as a form of self-treatment. However, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the chances of developing depression. [viii]
In fact, women are more than two times as likely to begin drinking excessively if they have experienced depression in the past. Likewise, stress has also been linked to alcohol misuse. [ix] Early life stressors, as well as cumulative life stressors, can also affect drinking – if anxiety levels and stress levels are high, then you may be more likely to drink alcohol to deal with the negative feelings. Stress doesn’t always cause alcohol addiction – however, the combination of stress and genetics can certainly increase the risk factor.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder/ Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse isn’t the same as alcohol addiction – however, it is a drinking pattern that can have many negative consequences, including negative effects on family, relationships, and failure to succeed in school or work. People who abuse alcohol may also experience legal issues relating to their drinking – such as driving under the influence of alcohol. [x]
Abusing alcohol is essentially the act of binge drinking and having negative drinking patterns. People who abuse alcohol may just drink once or twice a week but will drink an excessive amount that often causes physical damage to their bodies. For example, if you drink an unhealthy amount of alcohol on just the weekends (binge drinking), and you cause physical damage to your body or experience negative effects such as legal issues, then you may be an alcohol abuser.
Changing in Terminology
There has been a slight shift in the terminology used to describe alcohol issues in recent times – specifically in professional fields. Historic usage of the term ‘abuse’ is thought to suggest that people intentionally engage in the behaviours, which isn’t always the case.
Alcohol use disorder is becoming a more recognised term, as it puts emphasis on the fact that the condition is a disease – it is diagnosable, debilitating, treatable, and relapsing. [xi]
Drinking alcohol doesn’t come without its risks, in both the short term and the long term. Drinking too much alcohol in a short period of time can result in an alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol overdose occurs when there is an excessive amount of alcohol in the bloodstream, affecting areas of the brain that control life-supporting functions such as temperature control, heart rate, and even breathing. [xii]
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
Some signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning may include:
- Pale skin, sometimes a blue tinge
- Cold skin
- Clammy skin
- Slowed down breathing
- Appearing confused [xiii]
Alcohol Poisoning is an Emergency
If you experience the symptoms listed above or somebody you’re with is experiencing the above symptoms after drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, then we recommend that you call the emergency services as soon as possible (dial 999). When you’re on the phone with the operator or you’re in the hospital, you’ll be asked how much alcohol that you/ the person has had to drink, and what kind of alcohol.
If you’re with somebody that has overdosed on alcohol, don’t leave them alone. A person with alcohol poisoning may be at risk of choking on their own vomit, left unable to breathe. Many people will try to make the person throw up, but this should be avoided as the person could choke. If possible, try to keep the person sitting upright – however, if they are unable to sit up, lie them down with their head to the side to avoid choking. It may be scary calling the emergency services, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. [xiv]
The Main Effects of Alcohol Addiction
As alcohol is a drug, it can have many negative effects on both your body and your mind (physical effects and mental effects). That being said, it’s possible to drink alcohol without experiencing severe effects – as long as you drink in moderation.
The recommended maximum alcohol consumption (according to the UK Government and the NHS) is 14 units per week. [xv] For context in popular alcoholic drinks, 14 units equates to around six glasses of wine (13% ABV), or six pints of beer (4% ABV). When you exceed 14 units, your body may begin to feel adverse effects. If you don’t drink alcohol on weekdays but you drink a lot on the weekend (e.g 10 glasses of wine), then this is considered binge drinking. You may not be dependent on alcohol, but you could be at risk of developing an addiction.
Alcohol can affect the way you think, behave, and act – which is why many people will do things they wouldn’t usually do when they are sober. You can experience withdrawal symptoms, which means you’ll feel the need to drink alcohol to relieve the negative symptoms that you’re experiencing. There are many negative effects of alcohol addiction, including both short term effects and long term effects. Some of the longer-term effects of alcohol use disorder may include:
- Weakened immune system
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
- Memory and concentration problems
- Lowered libido
- Problems with sleep (e.g insomnia)
- Mood changes and mood swings (e.g anxiety or depression)
- Difficulties in relationships (romantic, professional, and family [xvi]
You may also experience health issues such as liver disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of certain cancers (breast, mouth, liver, colon), and learning problems. [xvii] Drinking alcohol excessively and regularly will have a negative effect on your life, damaging both your physical health and your mental health, as well as your social life and professional life.
It can also worsen mental disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. Excessive alcohol consumption also has negative effects on your household, especially if you have children. Your children or the children in your household may feel scared or act up in school. It’s rarely just the person with the addiction that gets hurt – it’s often the people around them too. [xviii]
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you drink high amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, even if you’re not an alcoholic, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking. Alcohol can make you feel relaxed by increasing the GABA effects. GABA is a neurotransmitter that can make you feel calm and sometimes euphoric. Alcohol can also decrease glutamate, which essentially decreases your excitability levels.
Drinking lots of alcohol can make it more difficult for your body to increase GABA and decrease glutamate levels, so you’ll feel the need to consume more alcohol to feel the same effects. Your body gets used to the changes, ultimately producing less GABA and more glutamate.
This means that when you stop drinking suddenly, your body will still be producing less GABA and more glutamate – meaning that you may feel restless, anxious, shaky, and hyper. [xix] The symptoms will be more severe if you previously drank heavily – read on to learn more about the main alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Your body will adapt to alcohol if you drink regularly – so when you suddenly stop drinking and your drinking habits change, you’ll feel the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the amount of alcohol you typically consume, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Tremors (in hands)
- High fever
- Stomach ache
- Red face
- Loss of appetite
You may also experience psychological and mental withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Troubles with sleep
- Other mental health problems
These symptoms may come on gradually, and worsen with time. Many people have different experiences with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, typically depending on their age, history with alcohol, weight, etc.
Many people will relapse to relieve the negative withdrawal symptoms – but the best way of avoiding this and dealing with the withdrawal symptoms is by getting quality and effective alcohol addiction treatment from qualified and trained medical professionals, such as our team at Help4Addiction. Read on to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment and how we can help you overcome your addiction and prevent relapse.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
We offer a variety of rehabilitation treatments that can help you or your loved one if you’re dealing with alcohol addiction, whether it be via an outpatient clinic or a residential rehab centre. We’ll usually begin with alcohol detoxification – and you may be able to partake in our alcohol home detox kits.
To learn more about this service, give us a phone call. Once you’ve completed the alcohol detox process, therapy will be available to help you. Your rehab centre will provide you with qualified therapists and consultant psychiatrists, and sometimes even holistic therapies and recreational activities.
However, the latter are generally found in private rehab centres and residential services. Nobody should have to live with substance abuse, so have a chat with us today to start getting your life back on track.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment
Before starting the alcohol rehab process, it’s important to know the difference between outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment centres are places where you can receive alcohol counselling and guidance, which may include one-on-one counselling and/ or group therapy sessions. At Help4Addiction, we can find the best service for you and your circumstances.
You can find these services for free through the NHS or from your GP, but with Help4Addiction, the experience is sure to be more streamlined and personalised. Residential rehab is a facility in which you move to undergo addiction treatment. You’ll temporarily live in a residential rehab centre for the duration of your recovery, and you’ll have meals and accommodation provided for you.
Most people will choose a 28-day residential rehab course, but some alcohol rehab centres allow you to stay for up to three months. The amount of time you stay at a rehab centre depends on the severity of your drinking habits.
The first step of any alcohol addiction treatment is detoxing from alcohol. This can be difficult, especially with the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms mentioned previously. Any and all access to alcohol will be cut off, so your body will be forced to free itself of alcohol dependency.
You will typically be given alcohol addiction medication to help you deal with the uncomfortable and unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The alcohol detoxification process will generally last two weeks, but this may differ depending on how much alcohol your body is used to consuming your age, and your weight. [xx]
After you have successfully completed the alcohol detox process, you’ll undergo therapy. This typically involves alcohol counselling and group sessions, as well as a variety of additional services that can help you combat the addiction and gain control of your life.
You may undergo CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which can help you get to the root of your addiction, and gain an understanding of how your negative relationship with alcohol began. CBT is a form of talking therapy based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are linked – and the cycle can be broken. [xxi] CBT can also help you understand your triggers, which can help you to avoid relapses.
Aftercare (Secondary Treatment)
Treatment doesn’t have to end once you’ve completed rehab – you’ll typically be offered aftercare/ secondary treatment after you’ve been discharged.
This involves attending outpatient centres and receiving support to help prevent relapses. You may also want to attend support groups, as it can be comforting to discuss your thoughts and feelings with others who understand what you’re going through. We strongly advise that you receive help for your alcohol addiction. Although rehab for alcoholism can be expensive, our friendly team can find the most suitable rehab centres for your budget as well as your personal needs. The recovery process can be long and difficult, but we’ll be here for you every step of the way.
Alcohol addiction isn’t something that you can completely cure – and unfortunately, there is always a chance of relapsing. However, with the right treatment, the chances of relapse are dramatically cut.
After detoxing, continuing cognitive therapy can give you the tools you need to identify your triggers and prevent relapses – ultimately breaking the bad habit for good. There are three main stages to relapse – emotional, mental, and physical. However, proper self-care and continued secondary treatment can help to break the cycle. [xxii]
Contact Us Today
Learning about alcohol addiction is key to recognising the symptoms of alcoholism. If any of the above resonates with you, or you’ve spotted the signs in a loved one, then contact our helpful team at Help4Addiction to discuss how we can help you. Our trained advisors will give you all the information you need and listen to everything you have to say.
This will help us make the right treatment plan for you or your loved one, and point you in the right direction. We offer a variety of addiction treatment options, whether it be a treatment facility on an inpatient basis or an outpatient basis. With treatment centres located all around England and Wales, you’re sure to find the right local treatment centre. We can also help you overcome other drug addictions, whether it be cocaine rehab, heroin rehab, or cannabis rehab.
Drug abuse can be debilitating and it’s always best to receive the best treatment and professional treatment advice. Contact Help4Addiction today to discuss your treatment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I drinking too much?
Can you recover from alcohol addiction at home?
If you can’t go a day without a drink, then you might have an addiction. There are plenty of other signs, too. Do you hide how much you drink from your family? Does your significant other often tell you that you drink too much? Do you regularly black out when drinking, forgetting parts of your night or day? Do you drink during the day?
All of these things are signs that you might have an alcohol addiction. Contact us to get help before you become one of the horrifying statistics that make alcoholism so deadly.
Can you recover from alcohol addiction at home?
Am I a functioning alcoholic?
How do I help my alcoholic loved one?
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from an addiction to alcohol, the best thing you can do for them is to be upfront and honest. If this doesn’t work, you can progress onto a staged intervention, with the collaboration of some other people who are close to your loved one.
Don’t forget that you can help an alcoholic loved one by passing them the phone number for our expert placement team, here at Help 4 Addiction. Our staff are trained to source the ideal rehab clinic near you, that meets your rehab needs. Call 0203 955 7700 today to get that help or keep hold of our number to pass on to your friend in need.