Why Is Alcohol Addictive? Study Offers Clues

Some risk factors have to do with a person’s environment, such as peer pressure or time spent in jail. Others are inherited through genetics, including a family risk of alcohol or drug addiction. Alcohol can lead to physical dependence as well as a psychological focus on the drug. When people use alcohol to mask unpleasant feelings, they may end up psychologically dependent on the substance.

why is alcohol so addictive

The substance will block signals between neurons, producing intoxication. The effects of intoxication might be slurred speech and a foggy memory. As one becomes tolerant to alcohol, they are forced to drink more to achieve the same levels of inebriation. Alcohol is so addictive simply because it is legal and so accessible. You could go out and score some heroin, but you run the risk of spending the next few years in jail.

Signs And Symptoms Of Alcoholism Alcohol Dependence

The more you feed into these feelings by drinking, the higher your tolerance levels get. This begins a vicious cycle of needing more and more alcohol to reach the level that you’re used to. The content on DrugAbuse.com is brought to you by American Addiction Centers , a nationwide network of leading substance abuse and behavioral treatment facilities. Pre-alcoholic symptomatic phase, or occasional social drinking that may progress to a perceived need to drink to relax or deal with stressful situations. This, in turn, may lead to an increased frequency and amount of alcohol consumed. Tolerance to alcohol already begins to develop in this early stage.

why is alcohol so addictive

As tolerance builds up, you’ll find that you need to drink more and more to catch the same buzz. So, when you’re constantly bombarding your dopamine system with addictive behaviors, your brain goes through a process known as down-regulation. This means that it actually desensitizates itself in order to find a state of balance. If you are frequently stressed, and you always rely on alcohol as a tool to ease your stress, then this can easily lead to alcohol addiction. While alcohol may be useful in the short term for relieving stress, it should not be considered a permanent solution. These are some common examples of environmental or emotional situations that may lead people to drink.

Wheres The Line Between Heavy Drinking And Alcoholism?

For example, performing poorly at work, flunking classes, neglecting your kids, or skipping out on commitments because you’re hung over. Our case management and aftercare services will make all necessary referrals for sober housing and treatment when completing our program. Our program integrates numerous treatment modalities from yoga and meditation to individual and group services.

When it comes to alcohol addiction and its causes, there are definite arguments for the “feel good” sensations that drinking provides. After all, drinking alcohol incites the release of “feel good” chemicals within the brain such as endorphins and dopamine. In fact, alcohol addiction can become socially acceptable as well. If you and the circle of friends that you drink with, are all alcoholics, it is even more unlikely that you will acknowledge that you have become an alcoholic.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

People with alcohol problems often drink alone and say they use alcohol to help them sleep or deal with stress. People who drink excessively may also engage in risky sexual behavior or drive when they should not. Someone suffering from alcohol abuse can become more aggressive and his or her ability to function can seriously deteriorate. Heavy drinkers may experience tremors, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. As alcohol abuse worsens, the person becomes preoccupied with alcohol and can lose control.

why is alcohol so addictive

If you have a parent or other relative who is an alcoholic, your risk of alcoholism automatically increases. Part of this is due to genetics, but the other part has to do with your environment. Spending time around people who drink heavily or abuse alcohol can influence you to do the same. Substance abuse experts make a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcoholism . Unlike alcoholics, alcohol abusers have some ability to set limits on their drinking. However, their alcohol use is still self-destructive and dangerous to themselves or others. Often, family members and close friends feel obligated to cover for the person with the drinking problem.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alcoholism Treatment

If you notice yourself feeling aches, pains, or having digestive issues, this is a sign that you’re drinking too much. When this happens, it becomes difficult for people to experience Sober living houses joy and pleasure from regular things. Your brain has become accustomed to associating dopamine release — pleasure — with drinking, making it hard for you to enjoy anything else.

When drinking too much becomes a pattern, you greatly increase your chances of developing an alcohol-related problem. The more you drink, the more your body builds a tolerance to alcohol. Tolerance means you’ll need more alcohol to feel the same effects you used to feel with less. Starting college or a new job can also make you more susceptible to alcoholism. During these times, you’re looking to make new friends and develop relationships with peers. The desire to fit in and be well-liked may cause you to participate in activities that you normally wouldn’t partake in.


A person may take a Stimulant such as Adderall, for example, to counteract the Sedative effects of an Opioid, such as Oxycodone. Mixing multiple types of drugs together is extremely dangerous and can potentially lead to overdose and death. Over 5 million emergency room visits in 2011 were related to drugs or alcohol. If you are one of them, know you are not alone — and that many treatment options exist to help you overcome your addiction. No one expects to develop an addiction when they begin experimenting. But continued experimentation can lead to addiction, often unknowingly to the individual using the substance. The patient is examined by a medical professional for symptoms meeting specific, scientific criteria defining the illness in question.

why is alcohol so addictive

Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without support, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when the road gets tough. Despite the potentially lethal damage that heavy drinking inflicts on the body—including cancer, heart problems, and liver disease—the social consequences can be just as devastating. Alcoholics and alcohol abusers are much more likely to get divorced, have problems with domestic violence, struggle with unemployment, and live in poverty.

Alcohol Addiction And Dual Diagnosis

Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available options for rehabilitation facilities. Many people continue drinking in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, effective treatment models exist for those who suffer from alcohol addiction. At Vertava Health, we provide medical detox and customized treatment that caters to people of all ages, professions, and backgrounds. If a person stops drinking suddenly, they could experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

This is often the case with certain occupations such as doctors and nurses – their day-to-day lives can be extremely stressful. To why is alcohol addictive lower this risk factor, take the time to de-stress with healthy methods, like reading a good book, exercising or taking a nap.

Addiction To Alcohol

As the radioactive carfentanil was bound and emitted radiation, the receptor sites “lit up” on PET imaging, allowing the researchers to map their exact locations. The finding marks the first time that endorphin release in the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex in response to alcohol consumption has been directly observed in humans. Accept invitations only to events that you know won’t involve drugs or alcohol. Going to the movies is probably safe, but you may want to skip a Friday night party until you’re feeling more secure. Go to the movies, try bowling, or take an art class with a friend.

  • Some medicines increase blood levels of alcohol or increase the adverse effects of alcohol on the brain.
  • Your culture, religion, family and work influence many of your behaviors, including drinking.
  • Substance abuse experts make a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcoholism .
  • Experiencing tolerance, which is when someone must drink increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve previous desired effects.

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