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Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction


Alcohol addiction or alcoholism may be defined as a condition where an individual is experiencing a compulsive urge   for alcoholic beverages such as wine, hard liquors, and beer. It may also describe the condition of being numb of the negative social and physical effects of taking in an intoxicating alcoholic drink. Individuals under this situation tend to continue their consistent intake of alcoholic drinks while they are in denial of its effects.  Alcohol addiction is also often marked by a loss of control by an individual of their alcohol consumption.


  A person under this condition is technically called “alcohol dependent” or “alcoholic” in layman’s term. Alcohol dependence leads to a greater drinking disorder which is alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse can then be defined as failure to execute family, work, school, and other major responsibilities due to the hazardous effects of alcoholic beverages. It may also be described by the irrational handling of both interpersonal and intrapersonal affairs because of the intoxicating results of alcohol to a person’s thinking capabilities.


Based on the data gathered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are already 17.6 million alcoholic Americans in the years 2001 and 2002 alone. From 7.41% in 1991-1992, the percentage of Americans with drinking problems soars up to 8.46% in 2001-2002. The heaviest drinkers among that huge number are young adults with the age range of 18-29.


There are certain causes of alcohol addiction. Studies proved that it is somehow caused by genetic inheritance. There is a big probability that a child will experience drinking problems if his parents are alcoholics. Psychological factors are also considered. Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression, anxiety, excitement, stress, emotional pain, and other extreme states of mind can trigger an individual’s desire for alcohol. The environment and experiences of an individual may also be a cause. Strong influences, such as media and peer pressure, are also among the factors.

Scientifically, alcohol dependence may be blamed to a monoamine neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is widely responsible for the modulation of aggression, appetite, mood, sexuality, and temperature of the body. It also has a major role in the human state of mind and consciousness. A drop in serotonin in the human body may result to impulsivity. Significantly, human beings experience a natural decrease of serotonin during adolescence period. This might explain why the people in the said stage are very impulsive in trying out new things that may later on turn into addiction- like alcohol.

Also, the experience of being drunk is something that some individuals become addicted to. As alcohol inhibits the synapses, the feeling of desire for alcohol also increases. This also explains why people who started drinking earlier have greater probability of ending up as alcohol dependents or, worse, alcohol abusers. Technically, that addictive feeling brought by alcohol is cause by gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. A rise in GABA will result in a fall in anxiety. Alcoholics tend to consume more and more alcoholic beverages to reduce anxiety caused by environmental factors and the intake of alcohol itself. Alcohol consumption will then be a cycle.


Another reason why human beings turn out to be alcohol dependents or alcohol abusers is plain and simple pleasure. Alcohol has a property that can stimulate an individual to feel good. That feeling will then lead to abuse and dependence to alcohol. The reason behind it is alcohol’s capability to increase the levels of dopamine in the body by boosting the rate of dopamine neurons that are isolated. Dopamine is associated with the system of the brain that provides feelings of enjoyment and such. Without or a low existence of dopamine therefore can make a person feel very low and numb to feeling pleasure.


Beyond science and psychology, economic   reasons also contribute to the causes of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. Globalisation, has caused the widespread expansion of distribution by the largest companies. Premium brands are now available everywhere and in areas where people are not so well off there are often cheap, local types of alcohol.


According to the 1998 figures from NIAAA, $185 billion is annually spent by the whole country for lost productivity, health care, accidents, crime, and social administration due to alcoholism. This year, it is already over $230 billion.     Obviously this doesn’t take into account much of the huge social cost of alcoholism.



One of its negative effects is sleep disorders. Although alcohol can make a person sleep, in the long run it is actually ruining his sleep cycle. Alcoholics also tend to create a world of their own. Alcohol also causes irrationality and thinking disorders. Since alcohol destroys brain cells, the functions of the nervous system will be widely affected. An individual under the influence of alcohol might not be able to retrieve and process information and situations well. These might then lead to committing crimes, accidental deaths, and even suicides.


Aside from its harmful psychological effects, alcohol also interferes with the oxygen supply to   the brain that can cause blackouts.  While liver disorders are the most common disease associated with alcohol abuse there are many other parts of the body that can be affected. Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver and stomach can also be acquired through excessive drinking. It can also cause acute pancreatic disorders. Bones and muscles are also weakened by alcohol consumption. Alcohol generally weakens the immune system. An alcoholic’s life is reduced by an approximate of 10-15 years.


Alcohol addiction is a medical and mental condition that can be remedied. However, the first thing an alcoholic should do is to admit his situation and have a desire to stop the lethal vice.  12 step programmes like alcoholics anonymous have worked for many people.  There are also many residential alcohol treatment centers that have the skillset required to help individuals who are looking to enter recovery.