Are you worried about the way you,or someone you care about, is using alcohol?
In our Australian culture drinking alcohol to celebrate or socialize is an accepted and everyday practice, and many people can enjoy the mood altering affects of alcohol without any negative consequences or resulting problems.
However for some people, and some families, using alcohol in moderation is just not possible. For reasons that are becoming increasingly clear though scientific study, some people have a sensitivity to alcohol that results in the development of a dependency that evolves into the disease of alcohol addiction or alcoholism.
Development of an addiction generally has 3 stages:
- Experimentation – often begins during the teenage years where the young person explores the personal effects of drinking different types and amounts of alcohol
- Habitual patterning – the process of developing patterns of drinking which become normalized in your life – for example always having a drink when you are socializing
- Dependency – the process of becoming dependent on drinking alcohol to manage some aspects of your life
Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism is a cunning and baffling disease that creeps up on you over a period of time as problematic drinking patterns develop and become a regular part of your life.
Your relationship with alcohol becomes characterised by obsession and compulsion. The obsession refers to the way you think about alcohol – the time you spend thinking and planning about when you will have your next drink, or how you plan to limit yourself. The compulsion refers to loss of control over your impulse to drink.
The disease of alcoholism is far more complex than just the behaviour of drinking too much.
There are two main ways that alcohol addiction manifests:
- Regular or habitual drinking
Characterised by drinking alcohol on a daily or near daily basis accompanied by the signs and symptoms below.
- Binge drinking or “heavy episodic drinking”
Patterns of drinking behavior, showing episodes of heavy alcohol use often with periods of alcohol free days or weeks between
What are the signs of alcohol addiction?
- Increasing tolerance – needing to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to feel the same effects.
- Impaired control – lacking the ability to limit the amount that you drink even when you have made a conscious decision to restrict your alcohol intake.
- Physical dependence – experiencing intense cravings for alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shakes, and anxiety when you stop drinking.
- Denial – refusing to face the reality of the problematic impact that the continuing use of alcohol is having on your life.
What are negative consequences?
A strong indicator of alcoholism is when a person continues to drink despite the negative consequences resulting from their use of alcohol. Some of these problematic consequences may include:
- Health consequences – the negative impact of heavy and/or long term use of alcohol on the body are well documented and can result in death
- Legal consequences – have you ever been pulled up for drink driving, or been in trouble with the law for behaviour occurring when you were under the influence of alcohol?
- Relational consequences – has your relationship with your partner, children, friends or extended family suffered as a result of your behaviour while intoxicated?
- Reputational consequences – have you ever felt ashamed, or missed opportunities because of your behaviour in public while intoxicated?
- Financial consequences – how much has your alcohol habit cost you?
- Career consequences – how has your drinking impacted your performance at work and prospect for career progression?
- Spiritual consequences – does alcohol dictate your friends, social life, family life?
The American Medical Association (AMA) declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956. In 1991, The AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.
Alcohol Addiction Realities
Recovery from alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is likely to be more successful when co-existing issues, underlying causes and environmental factors are addressed at the same time as you stop drinking.
Withdrawing from alcohol can be challenging, uncomfortable and even dangerous when attempting it alone. For this reason a professionally supervised detox is strongly recommended.
Addiction is a cunning, baffling and deadly disease and is most effectively treated in a therapeutic environment supported by addiction specialist health professionals.
If you would like to speak to someone who understands alcohol addiction, and who can discuss the your particular situation and treatment needs, we suggest that you call our assessment team who will offer a free and confidential preliminary chat, or full assessment if that is your preference.
Take the first step into treatment for alcohol addition today by phoning or emailing
our assessment team on 1800 063 332.