Alcohol addiction can be hard to recognize. The slippery slope from social to chronic drinking is a lot steeper than most people think. It’s critical, then, to look for warning signs in your drinking habits. Understanding alcohol addiction is necessary for avoiding it— but sometimes also the first step to overcoming it.
The Progression of Alcohol Addiction
You can gain a better understanding alcohol addiction by observing its progression. Alcohol addiction is not something a drinker can instantaneously develop in one evening. It’s a process that starts with the first drink. With time, if your habits are left to snowball out of control and your tolerance increases, social drinking can become problem drinking. Then problem drinking can become alcohol abuse. Down the line, alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol addiction, which can also be known as alcohol dependency or simply alcoholism.
The Origins of Alcohol Addiction
Understanding alcohol addiction requires understanding how it starts. Alcohol addiction can take root in multiple ways. It can be caused by genetic predisposal, triggered by physical or psychological distress, influenced by social factors, or a mixture of any of the three. Sometimes a stressful event, like a death in the family, can spark a drinking problem that leads to addiction. Other times, you’re at greater risk simply because you have a habit of drinking every day, even in small doses. Additionally, your risk of becoming an addicted to alcohol is about four times greater if you have an alcoholic parent.
You may be developing an alcohol addiction or already have one if you:
- feel guilty about your drinking habits.
- are ashamed of yourself for drinking.
- think you need to lie about your drinking.
- hide your drinking from family and friends.
- need to drink in order to feel relaxed or “normal.”
- “black out” regularly.
If you already have an alcohol addiction, you may try to deny it by:
- downplaying how much you actually drink.
- ignoring the negative consequences of your drinking habits.
- claiming that others are exaggerating your drinking habits.
- condemning others for your drinking or drinking-related problems.
The Effects of Alcohol Addiction on You
Alcohol addiction bleeds into all aspects of your life. Long-term addiction, if left untreated, can have a serious impact on your health. In fact, alcohol addiction can open up susceptibility to health issues like:
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Chronic heart disease
- Heart attack or stroke
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Throat cancer
- Breast cancer
Your physical health isn’t all that’s put at risk in alcohol addiction, however. Your emotional health is also at risk during alcohol addiction, as are your finances, profession, and relationships. Part of understanding of alcohol addiction is the knowledge that it affects more than just you—it affects your family, friends, and colleagues, too.
The Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Loved Ones
Alcohol addiction puts an enormous strain on your loved ones. Most of the time, if a loved on is struggling with an addiction, family and close friends will do all they can to help, even if it’s misguided. They may try to cover for you by doing things like cleaning up after you, lying to others for you, or taking on more work to support you. This, however, can have serious consequences. Pretending that nothing is wrong will eventually backfire. In fact, people addicted to alcohol have statistically higher rates of divorce or separation, involvement in domestic violence, unemployment, and even poverty.
Understanding Alcohol Addiction for Recovery
Admitting the problem is difficult, but you shouldn’t feel ashamed. You are not alone. Alcohol addiction affects millions of families, and recovery is possible for both you and your loved ones. It will take time, patience and a lot of support, but achieving sobriety for a happy and healthy life is within reach. At Rebound Institute, our programs and services will enable you to face the problems that led to your drinking problem so that you can overcome them and the addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to alcohol, call us today at 877-2REBOUND and take your first step toward sobriety.