08 Feb Are You An Alcoholic?
Most alcoholics are in denial and refuse to acknowledge that their social drinking turned into something much worse. If you can honestly answer positively to any of these questions, you are addicted to alcohol and need help:
- You regularly drink more than you wanted, although you told yourself that you wouldn’t. You have lost control of drinking;
- You would like to quit, but you can’t.
- Drinking is your main activity, you are not interested in anything else – hobbies, exercise, family gatherings;
- All you can think about is the next drink. Your entire life revolves around drinking. You or drink or are recovering from drinking.
- You know that your drinking is destroying your marriage and making you sick, but you cannot stop.
Risk factors for alcohol addiction
The transition from problem drinking to alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence is gradual. For some people, it can take years or even decades to happen. But, some people are more at risk and this process can be a matter of months only. Regular alcohol consumption disrupts the balance of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, a brain chemical that controls impulsiveness, and glutamate, which affects the nervous system. Alcohol increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, what accounts for the feeling of ‘high’ when drinking. The longer we drink, the more disrupted the balance of these chemicals in the brain is.
There are 10 most common risk factors that make some people more prone to problem drinking, alcohol abuse and eventual alcoholism:
- Genetic factors. People with a family history of alcohol or other addictions are at six time higher risk of alcoholism than people without it. Scientists found that the lower level of endorphin, which is hereditary, makes some people more predisposed to alcohol addiction.
- The early age of first alcoholic drink also increases a person’s risk of becoming an alcoholic later in life. About 26.6 percentage of Americans start drinking before they are of legal age for alcohol consumption.
- Smoking and drinking go hand in hand. Studies show that 83 percent of alcoholics are also smokers, in comparison to 34 percent of the non-alcoholics. Alcoholics also have harder time to stop smoking and smokers have more difficulty quitting drinking.
- Easy access. Cheap alcohol that is easy to get increases the number of people who abuse it. The increase of tax on alcohol in the US in 1983 and 2002 notably lowered the number of people who abused alcohol.
- Stress. Research shows that some stress hormones have a direct link to alcoholism. Also, stressful situations often compel people to increase their alcohol consumption in order to cope with it.
- Peer pressure. People whose friends drink in excess are more likely to abuse alcohol too.
- Low self-esteem. Many people with low self-esteem turn to alcohol in times of crisis if it is easily available.
- Depression. Many depressed people use alcohol to treat depression. At the same time, alcohol abuse often leads to depression.
- Media and advertising. Media, especially movies, often paint drinking as glamorous and worldly. Many popular movie heroes are seen with a glass in hand, often drinking to excess.
- High tolerance of alcohol. Some people’s metabolism requires larger quantities of alcohol to produce desired effect, making them at higher risk of alcohol disorders.
If you want to learn more about our clinical program for alcoholics, please contact us.