Alcohol has been named the most commonly used addictive substance in America. Every year, nearly 90,000 deaths are reported to be the result of heavy alcohol consumption. Being legal and easily accessible, alcohol is often abused without the knowledge that an addiction has developed. Because alcohol is widely accepted as safe, it is important to understand and identify the signs of an alcohol addiction. Even though the consumption of alcohol is legal, it can cause serious, irreversible damage when used in excess. Potential health risks include brain damage, liver failure, stroke, and death.
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol is defined as a colorless, odorless liquid that is made by a process in which sugars in food items are fermented, or broken down, by yeast. Alcohol is classified as a depressant, although it can incite opposite reactions in some individuals. The effect often has a lot to do with the amount that has been consumed. For many, a lower amount of alcohol can cause stimulation to occur, causing the drinker to experience euphoria. A higher dosage of alcohol may then cause the drinker to feel drowsy and begin to lose coordination and bodily control.
Alcohol has a physical effect as well as a psychoactive impact, altering one’s mental processes. This is why someone who has had a little too much to drink might lack the ability to make the best judgments or decisions. When someone drinks often or too much, it is likely that alcohol dependence has developed.
Alcohol Addiction and Dependence
This substance has the ability to alter the brain’s receptors and keep a person from knowing when they’ve had too much. This change in the brain is known as tolerance. As the tolerance level increases, the person will need more alcohol in order to obtain the same feelings which a lower dosage gave them before their tolerance was built. Alcohol dependence is characterized by a compulsive need to drink and an inability to stop once drinking has started. People who have become dependent on alcohol drink more in an attempt to feel “normal.”
Alcohol addiction is said to be a disease that changes the biochemistry of the brain. Signs and symptoms of addiction include dependence on alcohol, extreme tolerance for the substance, and drinking more often or in larger quantities. When a person is addicted to alcohol, they may begin to avoid family and friends or become irresponsible concerning school or work.
Alcohol can cause irreversible damage to the brain, heart and liver. As a depressant, the presence of alcohol in the bloodstream actively slows down organ function, thereby limiting the body’s oxygen supply. This lack of oxygen puts stress on the heart, which, over time can lead to cardiac arrest or disease. Because the liver is responsible for filtering alcohol ingested, consistent, heavy drinking eventually causes chronic hepatitis, fatty liver disease, portal vein hypertension, cirrhosis, or, ultimately, liver failure.
Although severe disorders can develop through heavy, prolonged alcohol consumption, impaired driving while under the influence is the leading cause of alcohol-related fatalities. Because alcohol slows reaction time and impairs motor skills, car accidents are common among those who abuse this substance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 29 people in the United States die each day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, totalling one death every 50 minutes.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction or Dependence
Thankfully, there is hope and help for those who are struggling with alcohol addiction or dependence. Asheville Recovery Center can offer a treatment program to help you or a loved one recover from alcohol caused issues. Our specialists are trained to give you the best possible support and guidance as you pursue a life free from alcohol addiction or dependence. Contact us today to begin your journey to recovery