‘More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limit.’
You hear about drug addiction probably more often than you should, but you rarely hear about alcohol addiction. Believe it or not, alcohol is also very addictive. This doesn’t mean that everybody who drinks will become addicted, but certain people are more likely to get hooked. Alcohol addiction can be a difficult one to recognise, but it can happen very easily, especially as alcohol is so widely available to us, and is the center of most social situations and celebrations.
There is not one specific cause for alcohol addiction. It can happen to absolutely anyone, affecting people from all walks of life. The severity of alcoholism depends on how often someone drinks, so alcohol addiction might not necessarily look the same from one person to the next.
Someone with an alcohol addiction might not necessarily be drinking all the time. An individual who binge drinks regularly can also be classed as somebody with a drinking problem. Somebody is typically an alcoholic if they cannot stay sober for a certain period of time, or if they are relying on alcohol to get them through the day.
Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are actually two very different things. Alcohol abuse is when somebody drinks to excess. They start drinking compulsively, and find that it starts to affect certain parts of their life. This could be anything from relationships falling apart, to missing work because of the drink.
Alcohol dependence is when the mind and body relies on alcohol to get through everyday life. When a person is alcohol dependent they find it hard to relax or enjoy themselves without having a drink, and they are overwhelmed with an uncontrollable desire to drink. Alcohol dependence is the most serious form of drinking problem, however alcohol abuse can sometimes lead to alcohol dependence, if help is not sought out in time.
Physical dependence can often follow. This is when the body experiences things such as sweating, shaking or nausea. It is to do with the body having withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.
As drinking has become such a common thing in society nowadays, sometimes it can be hard to determine the difference between a big drinker and someone with a real problem. Some of the things to look out for if you are concerned for a friend or family member are increased amount of drinking, drinking at inappropriate times (for example first thing in the morning), disregarding personal and professional responsibilities, making new friends, whom are also heavy drinkers, avoiding contact with people closest to them, dependence on alcohol to function daily, high alcohol intolerance and random mood swings. They might also try to hide the fact they are drinking, and will be dishonest about the amount in which they are consuming.
Alcoholism can cause damage to the brain and neurochemistry, and a person addicted to alcohol might not have control over what they do. It is important to realise that alcoholism is a real disease, and it is important to seek help when necessary.
If you are worried about somebody close to you, and think that they might have an alcohol addiction, the best thing to do is to approach them about it. Show them support, and try to help guide them in the best possible way you can. The worst thing you can do is make them feel guilty or ashamed.