Enjoying a beer, a glass of wine, or your favorite cocktail is an important way to celebrate, socialize, or unwind for many people. However, drinking excessively to cope with emotional distress or unwanted events carries a lot of terrible consequences, including alcohol dependence. When this happens individuals need access to an alcohol addiction treatment program like that at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center.
Alcohol dependence is a harmful condition that features many negative behaviors and adverse health impacts. It happens when alcohol alters normal brain functions. And it results in the inability to function normally. But overcoming alcohol dependence and remaining sober is still possible with commitment and support.
Alcohol Dependence vs. Alcohol Abuse: Are They the Same?
There are two types of substance use issues, including dependence and abuse. In order to better grasp the effects that the use of chemicals have on our health, it is important to differentiate these terms. People who abuse alcohol continue to consume alcohol in spite of the health, legal, interpersonal, and social problems that result from its use. Conversely, alcohol dependency is often accompanied by characteristics that include:
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol
- Developing alcohol tolerance
- Consuming alcohol to suppress withdrawal symptoms
- Being aware of having a compulsion to drink
Of these characteristics, the most prevalent and obvious aspect of alcohol dependence is tolerance. People who are alcohol dependent consume a large amount of alcohol to experience the same effects normally produced by a lower dose of alcohol. Also, people suffering from alcohol dependence normally are uncomfortable when they are not drinking.
Due to these reasons, many people with alcohol dependence tend to be emotionally, psychologically, and physically reliant on alcohol. They continue consuming alcohol even though they may be aware of the adverse effects that their condition causes, such as tremors, nausea, and sweating.
Why Does Alcohol Dependence Occur?
No one begins drinking in the hope that they will become alcohol dependent. Yet regular heavy drinking can lead to dependence and alcoholism.
When someone consumes alcohol, it enters their brain. As a result, the balance of neurotransmitters that enable the body to function effectively is disturbed. This disruption leads to physical signs as well as behavioral changes associated with intoxication, including drowsiness, loss of inhibition, slurred speech, euphoria, and compromised coordination.
Fortunately, these signs wear off once the alcohol is broken down in the body. However, when alcohol exposure occurs repeatedly, the brain compensates for its effects, and this kick starts the cycle of chemical changes that occur in the brain.
The brain counters the effects of alcohol by increasing excitatory neurotransmitter activity, which stimulated nerve activity. Once these changes occur, people need a larger amount of alcohol to feel its effects, and this results in escalated drinking. It is likely that people start craving alcohol intensely at this point, as they are confronted with physical withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Elevated heart rate
After six hours after someone has consumed their last drink, these symptoms can be felt. So to avoid these symptoms, many individuals begin drinking more frequently.
Because alcohol limits the way an individual perceives pleasure as well as the ability to control behavior, heavy consumption of alcohol is dangerous to the reward system of the brain. Over time, the combination of changes and withdrawal symptoms can create a cycle of dependence that can cause someone to get addicted to alcohol. The unfortunate reality is that most of the time, alcohol dependence goes untreated.
Let Georgia Addiction Treatment Center Help
Remain optimistic. You can get help to overcome alcohol dependence. It is possible to escape this downward spiral. There are many different forms of treatment available if you decide to change your life. Contact the professionals at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center at 855.952.3546 today for more information.