Understanding Alcohol Addiction
Understanding Alcohol Addiction; of all the addictions possible, and there are many, alcohol addiction, more commonly known as alcoholism, is probably more commonly known. Alcohol addiction is due to several factors. It is heavily portrayed in literature, television, and movies, often as a mechanism for making a character into a villain or a tragic protagonist. More so, though, is that it is a prevalent form of addiction due to the ready availability of alcoholic beverages in most cultures.
Even people that do not have what one would call an addictive nature can still easily fall victim to alcohol addiction. It is the affirmation availability of alcoholic products that’s a significant contributor to this, along with the social normalization of imbibing them.
This is not to admonish those who can responsibly enjoy these beverages, nor to admonish those who sell or produce them. Substances in of themselves are neither good nor bad; it is all about how they are used.
Unfortunately, alcohol is quite an addictive substance. This is due to psychology as well as biology. Like most substance-based addictions, the body can develop quite a dependency on it, and the psyche can be conditioned to become equally dependent. Naturally, this is an unhealthy place to be and can be severely deleterious to the body.
The Nature of Alcoholism
First, for Understanding Alcohol Addiction, let us take a look at how this addiction works. Naturally, this is somewhat complicated if you want to explore it, but will look at this in simpler terms. Alcohol induces a euphoric, sedate state in the human body. This is a form of poisoning resulting from the liver attempting to remove impurities from the body. The intoxicating effect is in of itself a side effect of this. The liver is a significant source of this, is a problem we will explore shortly.
While experiencing intoxication, emotions can be both numbed and intensified in contradictory ways. Those experiencing severe melancholy may temporarily experience relief, with good humor and optimistic thoughts being emphasized. However, this can as efficiently serve to intensify melancholy, enhance angry responses, or far worse.
This numbness can become a psychological addiction, a form of escape. It is not a real escape, as while intoxicated, the mind is not correctly processing its issues.
Along with this psychological dependence, physical dependence is not far behind. The human body adapts to the physiological level, especially when it comes to body chemistry. As the body is consistently exposed to an intoxicant or poison, it will adjust itself to account for these poisons. This results in a physical addiction, as the body’s adjustments will be quite unpleasant when the stimulus for this change is not also there.
People with a physical addiction to alcohol often develop shakes, flop sweats, nausea, and insomnia, to name a few noticeable symptoms.
The source of alcohol addiction can stem from several things. People who are otherwise happy and mentally balanced can still become addicted to the substance only from gradual but increasing consumption. This is a leading cause of alcoholism, and it can kind of sneak up on you. This can be simply due to social pressure, rebellion, curiosity, or influence by alcoholic parents or other family members.
Traumatic events, depression, or a sense of discontent can also lead one to turn to alcohol as a crutch. For whatever reason, others cannot use pharmaceutical pain management and turn to alcohol to ease the pain. It can be used as a mild painkiller, but far better and safer pharmaceutical alternatives are available, with a physician’s guidance.
The Side Effects of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can be quite deadly. As we said above, the intoxicating effect of alcohol is due to the liver attempting to filter poisons from the blood. This takes quite a toll on the liver and can result in it falling over time. Cirrhosis is a common cause of death for many heavy users of alcohol.
However, it is not just the liver; it can be destroyed by excessive consumption of alcohol. Gastrointestinal issues are commonplace, such as the onset of symptoms similar to Crohn’s disease, ulcers, gastroenteritis, and far worse.
Kidney failure is also a significant risk, as well as the breakdown of the nervous system. Of significant risk is alcohol interaction with medications, especially many available treatments for tuberculosis and liver conditions.
Alcohol impairs judgment, which is why nobody should ever operate a vehicle or heavy machine while under its influence. Accidents from drunk driving are one of the leading causes of vehicular death worldwide, and this is a horrible statistic.
Psychologically, this dependency is just like any other addiction, being perceived as an end-all escape from whatever may be troubling someone at the time. Due to the impairment of judgment and emotional stability, while intoxicated, neuroses can worsen, and evil thoughts can begin to germinate in one’s psyche. These can fester and grow worse, even wants the individual is once again sober.
This dependency also inhibits proper treatment and psychological self-evaluation due to the placebo is alcohol being perceived as the fix when it is accomplishing nothing but doing damage.
How Therapy Can Help
Alcoholism is a particular disease for which there are many proposed treatments. There are religious and non-religious programs sought by people through which to become sober. For some, programs like this do work. However, people should be aware of any faith-based sobriety program for one reason alone. Far be it from us to say that one’s faith should not be part of their healing, but a false sense of religious enlightenment can easily replace existing addictions in people. Be sure that your faith, and not a substitute for your previous addiction.
The best approach is therapy, perhaps with some pharmacological aid by a physician in more severe cases. With cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychotherapist can aid a patient in discovering exactly what it is that’s driving them to turn to the bottle in the first place. What are they running from?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is all about isolating the problems and not running from them, but rather addressing them. Once these problems have been discovered, solutions for them can be discussed. There are problems in everyone’s life that they may not be a do anything about. In these cases, it is all about working around them and developing constructive and healthy coping mechanisms.
Many therapists will recommend that hobbies be pursued, an incredibly creative hobby such as arts, music, and the like, channeling the patient’s emotional energy, rather than trying to smother this with toxic substances.
Therapy is about guiding patients to finding their problems, rather than a professional merely telling a patient what to do. It is a journey of self-improvement, and it is not one that’s going to be easy. However, alcohol in excess is not only physically deadly but also disastrous to the mind. Remember, your addiction does not just affect you but also those you love and who love you. Every time you drink too much and run that risk of making bad decisions with your judgment impaired, that’s also a risk to others’ safety.
If you think that you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol addiction, don’t wait. Get help immediately, and be proud of the fact that you’re acknowledging the problem and doing something about it. This can happen to anyone, so don’t be ashamed of being human. Only be ashamed of doing nothing about it. Edmonton Counselling Services provides addiction counseling; feel free to book a private session to recover from alcohol addiction.