While alcohol is legal to buy and sell, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the fifth most addictive substance on our planet. In fact, in the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that one for every 12 individuals over the age of 18 struggles with alcoholism. That totals to over 17 million people with an addiction to alcohol. In a society which glorifies drinking alcohol, it’s not hard to see why so many people are addicted, but many don’t seek the help they need. Unfortunately, those who don’t will experience the inevitable long-term health and mental effects alcohol offers. But, those who do focus their efforts on treatment and a life of sobriety can and do get free from a life of addiction to alcohol!
What is Alcohol?
Wine, spirits, liquor–each contain alcohol. It’s a liquid substance derived from yeast breaking down sugars in a process known as fermentation. When consumed, alcohol slows cognition and reduces fluid voluntary movement. This is because it’s a central nervous system depressant. So, those that use alcohol heavily may experience a lack of judgment, impaired speaking, unsteady walking, and disabled reaction time.
How Alcohol Reacts with the Body
Alcohol affects users quickly, being carried from the bloodstream to the brain in a matter of minutes. After taking a sip of alcohol, it’s carried to the stomach, where 20% of alcohol is transferred to the bloodstream. Then, it’s taken to the small intestine, where 80% of alcohol is said to be absorbed. Finally, alcohol is taken to the liver to be transformed into nontoxic waste. However, the liver can only transform so much alcohol at a time. So, the more a person drinks, the more severe effects are. When blood alcohol levels are extremely high, alcohol content can even cause the nervous system to shut down, resulting in respiratory failure which often leads to death.
Alcohol Abuse, Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction
Undoubtedly, drinking in large quantities can lead to horrifying consequences. But that’s not the only danger of alcohol. While most people can drink a glass of wine with dinner, those struggling with alcohol abuse don’t know when to quit. Alcohol abuse is consuming alcohol too much and/or too frequently. According to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 4 drinks a day for men and 3 for women is “high-risk drinking behavior”. Often, this type of behavior can be characterized as alcohol abuse.
Long-term and frequent alcohol abuse can cause the body to start recognizing alcohol. So, it eventually requires more of the substance to offer the same intoxifying effects. This is known as tolerance. After tolerance forms, the body not only starts recognizing alcohol but starts to need it to function properly. This is called dependence. Once physical dependence forms, individuals begin consuming alcohol just to go about daily activities.
Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is characterized by experiencing negative results from consuming alcohol and continuing to drink regardless of unwanted circumstances. Other signs of alcohol addiction may include:
- Drinking more than initially intended
- Trying to stop drinking but failing
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol isn’t consumed
- Relationship problems
- Financial issues
- Legal problems
- Cravings to drink
- Neglecting responsibilities
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction, help is available. When dedicated to treatment, individuals can recover from alcoholism and regain their lives from addiction. To get the support you need, contact Simple Path Recovery today!