How Does Alcoholism Start?
Alcohol works in a few different parts of the brain, slowing down activity in the central nervous system. At first, it causes a happy and relaxed feeling, which is why a lot of parties feature alcoholic beverages. Too much alcohol, however, reduces muscle coordination, impairs thinking, and causes a host of other problems depending on how much a person consumes. Long-term use can cause a person’s brain to get used to the alcohol, which results in dependence, or the feeling that one needs alcohol to feel normal or okay. Some people are more genetically prone to alcoholism than others, although several other factors, like stress levels and alcohol availability, play a large role in alcoholism development.
Alcoholism comes with many physical and emotional dangers. If someone you love exhibits any of the warning signs discussed below, you should help your loved one seek treatment.
“Binge drinking,” an early sign of alcoholism, is more common in teenagers and young adults than it is in older adults. When a person binge drinks, he or she drinks large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time, usually with the intention of getting drunk. Binge drinking can happen when one is alone, though it’s a popular activity in group settings like parties. Because binge drinking involves consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time, it can lead to health problems much more quickly than normal amounts of drinking.
In 2015, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month.
If you’ve noticed any of these patterns in yourself or in someone you love, call Rehab Info at 800-492-QUIT today.
Physical Signs of Alcoholism
Most of the physical signs of alcoholism can be fairly obvious, although your loved one will probably try to hide the signs. If your loved one is frequently drunk but tries to hide, minimize, or dismiss it, he or she may be suffering from alcoholism. Your loved one may drink to the point of passing out and forgetting certain times or events.
Alcoholism causes long-term physical health problems as well. These issues include the following:
- Heart problems
- Liver disease
- Nervous system disorders
- Sexual dysfunction
- High blood pressure
About 88,000 people per year die from alcohol-related causes
Mental Signs of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is, in fact, a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. Not only is alcoholism caused by mental health problems, it can also worsen mental health issues, creating a vicious cycle. In the short term, you may notice that your loved one has an impaired ability to think. Conversations may happen more slowly as an alcoholic struggles to find the right words. He or she may struggle to recall certain memories. An alcoholic may also experience depression and/or anxiety, whether or not this individual has experienced these issues in the past.
In addition to these physical and mental changes, alcoholism changes an individual’s personality, too. He or she will become preoccupied with getting and drinking more alcohol. This obsessiveness affects all realms of life. For instance, an alcoholic will likely stop performing well at work or school due to arriving drunk or thinking about alcohol instead of the task at hand. As a result, he or she may face expulsion from school or job termination. Alcohol also tends to heighten certain negative personality traits such as anger, so some alcoholics can become violent or explosively angry while drinking. These changes can cause marital and social problems, often leading to divorce and loss of friendships.
The good news is that alcoholics have many treatment options available. However, most alcoholics will need a lot of urging from friends and family members to accept help. This process often begins with an intervention, an event in which loved ones gently confront the alcoholic person. Afterward, the individual should enter a carefully monitored detox program so that he or she can safely deal with withdrawal while the alcohol leaves the body. After detox, rehabilitation programs offer inpatient and outpatient options to begin the recovery process. Finally, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous provide group therapy. Many alcoholics find these programs especially helpful because they provide supportive environments and help from people who have been through similar struggles.
The options can get overwhelming. If you’re suffering from an alcohol use disorder, or if one of your loved ones is suffering, let Rehab Info help. At Rehab Info, we provide information and advice about substance abuse.