For better or worse, alcohol is an accepted part of social life for many people. Alcohol is common in many social situations, such as family events, work functions, happy hours, and tailgate and family functions. While many people won’t experience negative effects while drinking alcohol, there are some who will become dependent and even addicted to alcohol. Because of its wide availability and legal status, most people feel that alcohol is a “safe” substance.
The truth is that alcohol is a highly dangerous substance. Alcoholism can ruin the lives of the user, and it can tear families apart. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, finding professional help is of utmost importance. Knowing the signs of alcoholism and taking appropriate action once symptoms of alcoholism are detected is essential in getting the help you need can save your or a loved one’s life.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. According to data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. While widely available and legal, alcohol is an extremely addictive substance.
Alcohol is a powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows brain functioning and significantly impacts important body functions such as heart rate and respiration. When alcohol is consumed, the brain increases the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine which stimulate nerve activity and heighten arousal. Over time, people need to increase the amounts they drink to achieve the pleasurable effects of calm and sedation.
As people consume greater quantities of alcohol, brain chemistry becomes significantly altered. As a result, the body becomes totally dependent on alcohol for basic bodily functioning on a daily basis. This creates a vicious cycle of alcohol dependence that spirals out of control and becomes full-blown alcoholism.
What Causes Alcoholism?
There isn’t any single factor that causes alcoholism. Every person is unique in the factors that allow alcohol addiction to flourish. The following are four common factors that make people more vulnerable to becoming alcoholic:
People that have a family history of alcoholism are at greater risk for developing an addiction to alcohol themselves. It is important to note that alcoholism doesn’t have to run in the family for someone to develop an alcohol use disorder. Simply being around family members or relatives who regularly drink can put people at greater risk of developing an alcohol addiction.
Those who have a pre-existing or undiagnosed mental disorder are at a greater risk of developing an alcohol addiction. While alcohol may temporarily ease the symptoms of mental disorders, using alcohol as the only coping mechanism will make their mental illness worse—and they can develop an alcohol addiction issue creating a complex condition called dual diagnosis.
Another common factor in the development of alcoholism is persistent and high levels of stress found in one’s work, home, or school environment. This is especially true if people have high-stress professions in the medical or legal fields. Additionally, family issues and the constant juggling of work and family commitments can create high levels of stress that may lead people to drink alcohol in order to cope with their stress.
One of the most common factors that can make people vulnerable to developing alcoholism is peer pressure. This is especially true for teenagers who may start drinking to fit in or be seen as “cool” by their peers. Peer pressure can also be seen in adults, especially in the workplace, where people may hit up a happy hour after work or attend work parties.
What are the Signs of Alcoholism?
The signs of alcoholism can be difficult to detect. Those who are addicted to alcohol are good at hiding their drinking from family and friends. If people approach those with alcohol issues with concern, they will deny they have a drinking problem. Additionally, alcoholics will blame others and rationalize why they drink. The following are common signs of alcoholism:
- Smell of alcohol on their breath that can linger for hours after their last drink
- Dry skin and brittle fingernails
- Poor hygiene
- Yellowish eyes and pale skin
- Chronically tired and “feeling sick”
Additional alcoholic symptoms include drinking more than initially intended, having intense urges and cravings to drink, and increased family, work, and school problems. Also, alcoholics have an increased lack of interest in the activities and hobbies they once enjoyed.
How to Find Outpatient Alcohol Treatment
If you or a loved one are displaying the signs of alcoholism, now is the time to act. Simply letting alcoholic symptoms go will only make the problem worse and unmanageable. If you are looking for outpatient alcohol treatment, you need to find a facility with evidence-based treatment programs that provide the flexibility to fit around your busy schedule. Nashville Treatment Solutions is a premier drug treatment facility that perfectly fits the bill.
Our experienced staff has decades of proven experience in treating alcoholism and other addictions. We will work with you in creating an individualized treatment plan that will give you the tools to achieve long-term sobriety. Whether you need traditional outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, Nashville Recovery Solutions will help you find lasting health and happiness. Call us today!