Australia is home to a drinking culture best described as intrinsic, where the idea of a barbecue without beer, or a Saturday without some afternoon drinks, is almost sacrilegious. And yet, the prevalence of alcohol-related health issues are pervasive, with excessive alcohol consumption linked to chronic disease, injury and premature death.
So why do we continue to drink even though we know alcohol is causing problems - not only in terms of health but in terms of our relationships, our community, our work, and our family life?
In this article we are going to explore alcohol addiction and go through why you may not feel able to stop drinking and talk about some of the strategies you can use to combat alcohol addiction.
Are you seeking help getting past alcohol addiction? Know that no matter how tough things are, we are here for you. Call us today and find out which program will work for you.
Am I addicted to alcohol?
Alcohol is associated with so many social situations: celebrations, commiserations, work, parties, social events, breakups, weddings, funerals, and everything in between. The act of consuming alcohol triggers the release of certain chemicals in the brain which make us feel relaxed, content, and which make us less sensitive to pain.
- Alcohol addiction is generally defined as continued drinking despite a desire to stop or cut down
- If you have ever tried to cut down or stop drinking you may be living with alcohol addiction
- If areas of your life are affected by your drinking, such as work, relationships, or health and you continue to drink then this may be indicative of alcohol addiction
There is a myth about alcohol addiction that a 'true' alcoholic wakes up and begins drinking immediately, but the fact is that alcoholism can present itself in many ways. You may binge drink, only drink once the kids are in bed, or drink on weekends - but whatever the situation, if you are drinking more than you want to and cannot stop you may need help.
What are the signs of alcohol addiction?
There are many ways in which alcohol addiction can present itself, but some of the potential symptoms or behaviours include:
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Choosing to spend time with other drinkers as it allows you to drink as much as you want without fear of judgement
- Joking about or talking about how you have a problem with alcohol
- Putting drinking before other obligations and justifying drinking to excess, even when you have work or commitments the next day
- Making excuses for drinking, saying that you need to drink to feel normal, to relax or because you are stressed due to work or family commitments
- Isolating from family and/or friends
- Suffering relationship issues due to drinking
- Having legal problems related to drinking, such as public drunkness or driving under the influence of alcohol
- Needing to drink to feel confident or relaxed
- Getting drunk when you do not intend to
- Deny or play down how much you drink, or getting angry when asked or confronted about your drinking
- Making loved ones worry about your drinking or behaviour when drinking
If you know that you suffer from one or more of these possible signs, it is not definitive proof of alcohol addiction, but it may be time to examine your drinking.
[content_aside]The Hader Clinic in Melbourne offers a free 60-minutes consult in which we can assess your drinking and offer advice on whether our treatment centre will benefit you. Contact us today for an obligation-free assessment.[/content_aside]
Why do people become addicted to alcohol?
Drinking affects people in a range of ways. You may know people who can go to a party and have one drink, while you might promise yourself you will stick to a limit of a certain number of drinks only to drink more than you wanted to. Alcohol addiction can be physical and/or emotional, and it is important to understand that you can become addicted for a range of reasons.
Reasons why people become addicted to drinking include:
- The feeling of reduced pain, increased confidence and an increase in energy and enjoyment may become addictive. You continue to drink because you enjoy how it makes you feel, despite the potential negative consequences.
- When you drink it gives you a release from everyday stressors, such as work, relationship or family stress. The feeling of release becomes addictive and you feel like you cannot go without it.
- You may be a person who becomes addicted to certain substances or activities quite easily, and so it is harder for you to stop or cut back once you enjoy something or experience a pleasurable sensation.
Physical alcohol addiction
Along with these psychological addictions as listed above, you may also experience physical addiction if you drink heavily over a long period of time. The symptoms of alcohol dependence appear when you do not drink, and are deeply unpleasant and can be life-threatening.
Physical addiction symptoms include:
- Sweating, shaking, and nausea
- Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
- Anxiety, nervousness, and panic
- Increased heart rate, disorientation, headaches, insomnia
In severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, a person may go into shock and die without alcohol.
If you are physically addicted to alcohol you must seek clinical assistance when looking to stop drinking. Contact us now if you need help stopping drinking. If there is an emergency, call 000 and get help immediately.
Many people struggle silently with alcohol addiction - often in part because they believe they can 'manage' the consequences of their alcohol addiction. But in the meantime, they are suffering. You are not resigned to your fate, and you do not have to live with alcohol addiction. Help is available.
Whether you know you are living with alcohol addiction and want to take control back over your life, or if you are unsure but feel like something may be amiss - know that we can help.