In the UK, alcohol consumption is acceptable for adults. Most drink to some extent. It is considered sociable to drink alcohol with friends and family members, but while most people drink in moderation, there are many who drink more than they should. Those who do drink excessive amounts, have a higher risk of developing an addiction, as well as many health problems. It is hard to understand what alcohol addiction could mean for you until you actually experience it.
Many assume that addiction to substances such as alcohol is a lifestyle choice. They believe that those affected can choose whether to drink or not; the individuals that do think like this have no idea of what alcohol addiction actually does to the brain and how it takes all control away from the person.
The fact that chronic alcohol use can change the structure of the brain is something that most are oblivious to. Without any direct experience of the problem, it is difficult to know how it can affect all aspects of an affected person’s life.
The Harm That Alcohol Abuse Can Cause
The UK Government recommends that alcohol consumption is kept within safe weekly amounts. Adults are advised to drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol each week, which equates to around six pints of normal-strength lager or six glasses of wine. The fourteen units should be spread across the entire week; some days should be kept alcohol-free.
Drinking more than fourteen units per week is considered harmful to your health. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can affect almost every single cell in the body. Moreover, it is linked to hundreds of different illnesses, both mental and physical.
While some might think that regular alcohol use is the most dangerous thing you can do in terms of drinking, binging can also be extremely harmful. There are those who drink their entire week’s allowance in one drinking session, not drinking for the rest of the week. Although they are still within the weekly guideline amount, they are putting their health at risk due to the lack of regulation.
The Legal Drug
Alcohol is considered harmless by many because of the fact that it is a legal substance. Unfortunately, most do not see it as a drug, even if it can cause health problems when abused. Alcohol is a mood-altering chemical that can affect both the mind and body. It can alter both your judgement and perception and can have a detrimental effect on various bodily functions. Those who are intoxicated by alcohol are more likely to take unnecessary risks and put themselves in harm’s way.
It should be noted that it is not just the person drinking excessive amounts of alcohol who is in danger. In fact, alcohol abuse is also linked to violent crime, with around half of all reported cases said to be attributed to someone under the influence of a mood-altering substance, such as alcohol or drugs.
Are You Addicted to Alcohol?
It is hard for most to come to terms with an alcohol addiction. As it is a legal substance and one that most people enjoy socially, it is difficult to see it as anything other than harmless. Yet, alcohol addiction is a widespread problem. In fact, here in the UK, millions of people readily admit to regularly drinking more than their recommended weekly allowance in one day. In addition to this, it is estimated that there are more than half-a-million people in England alone who are dependent on alcohol. There are probably many more who are yet to reach out for help though.
Seeking Help for Alcoholism
Reaching out for help for an alcohol addiction means admitting it exists in the first place, and many affected people are just not ready to do that. Most have their own reasons for the delay, but some have a genuine inability to accept how serious their situation is.
Others are not yet ready to give up alcohol and would rather pretend that everything is okay and hope for the best. They believe that if they do nothing then their situation might resolve itself. This rarely happens. It is far more likely that the problem will get worse if left untreated. If you are worried that you may have an alcohol addiction, it is better to deal with it as soon as possible as an early intervention will improve your chances of a full recovery.
Self-Assessing Your Drinking
Think about your drinking habits for a moment. Are you drinking more now than you did when you first started drinking? If so, this is probably due to an increased tolerance. Your brain has adapted to the presence of alcohol and is now producing fewer dopamine chemicals when you drink.
Dopamine chemicals are responsible for the feelings of pleasure that you experience when you drink (among other things). If you have found that it takes more alcohol for you to experience these feelings than it used to, it is likely that your tolerance levels have risen.
You might think that you cannot possibly be addicted because you do not drink as soon as you get up in the morning. You may also believe that you have to drink every day to be an alcoholic, but this is not true. These factors are less of an issue than the amount of control you can exert over your drinking once you do start.
If you find it difficult to stop drinking once you start, then you may have a problem. Or if you struggle to resist the urge to drink when it arises, you could also be in trouble. If you regularly drink more than you planned to or drink, even though you had promised yourself that you would not, then it is likely you need help.
Furthermore, if you continue drinking despite knowing that it will have negative consequences for you and your loved ones, it is almost certain that you are addicted and that you need help to get your life back on track.
What Is Alcohol Addiction Like?
There are many people who wonder what alcohol addiction is like and how they might feel if they were affected. You may already have a fairly good idea of what this illness is like. You might have started drinking alcohol socially with your friends and never imagined you could end up with a drinking problem.
Or perhaps you started drinking alcohol to help you forget your problems or to make you feel better? Again, you would not have done so with the intention of developing an addiction. But now you are finding it difficult to quit. You may have tried to cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink without success.
Maybe you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, sweating, shaking and a racing pulse when the effects of alcohol wear off? If so, have you noticed that these symptoms subside with a sip or two of alcohol?
Alcohol addiction is an uncontrollable desire to drink and one that can destroy your life. When you are addicted, it takes over and does not allow you to care about anything else. The things that you once found pleasure in will become less important to you, and you may even begin neglecting your family members, friends, and responsibilities at home and at work. The impact that this illness can have is far-reaching.
What Is Alcohol Addiction Treatment Like?
Although alcohol addiction can have devastating consequences, it is an illness that can be treated. Help is available and no one with this illness needs to continue living in its grip. If alcohol addiction affects your life, you should know that it is possible to overcome it fully. Abstinence is the key to success, however, this means that you are likely to need an alcohol detox initially.
An alcohol detox is a complicated process that usually takes place in a dedicated facility, although it can be completed at home. Wherever you detox, you will require supervision at all times. There is a risk of serious complications, and it is impossible to know who will be affected until these occur. Nonetheless, in a dedicated facility, it may be possible to prevent the worst symptoms from occurring with medication and/or vitamin supplements.
Once detox is completed, which usually takes around two weeks, your mind and body will be clear and you will then be ready to start your rehabilitation treatment. Rehab programmes aim to address the psychological side of the illness through a series of psychotherapeutic treatments which can include individual counselling and group therapy.
You will work closely with a counsellor and therapists to identify the cause of your addictive behaviour. You will then be able to challenge any negative thought processes that have led to your illness with a view to overcoming them and replacing them with positive and healthier alternatives.
Where to Find Alcohol Treatment?
It is important that you reach out for help as soon as possible. The good news is that you have plenty of choices when it comes to rehab treatments. You can speak to your GP who will refer you to your nearest addiction treatment centre. You should be prepared for a wait for your first appointment though. If you are keen to get started on treatment immediately, you may wish to consider a private clinic.
Private clinics, such as ours, operate across the UK and provide residential programmes that you can access, usually within hours. The inpatient programmes will give you the opportunity to escape from your everyday life and the temptations that go with it. You will move into the clinic for treatment and will stay there for between four and twelve weeks, depending on your needs and how severe your addiction is.
If you are ready to get started on a programme of recovery, please call Banbury Lodge today. You can find the help you need right here, and we will answer any questions you might have about alcoholism and how to overcome it. If you have been wondering what alcohol addiction is like and how to beat it, please call now.