How Does Alcohol Addiction Start

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Wondering what makes a person an alcoholic? Have you asked how does alcohol addiction start? Find out more…

How does alcohol addiction start and is there a genetic factor involved? There are many ways and reasons that a person becomes addicted to alcohol, and although genetics can play a role in some addiction, it is not always the case. Alcohol addiction takes time to develop and habitual drinking will begin to affect the brain and body. These chemical and structural changes will begin to make the drinker alcohol dependent. Alcohol floods the reward center of the brain with neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that create feelings of euphoria, calm, relaxation, giddiness, happiness, and playfulness. It also diminishes the perception of physical and emotional pain, and appears to be an attractive alternative for anyone suffering with chronic pain or mental health disorders.

Alcoholics with a dual-diagnosis usually suffer from anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar disorder, depression and more. Many people who suffer with mental issues can become dependent on alcohol in their attempt to self-medicate because the alcohol provides a temporary relief from their pain. But alcohol is filled with many empty promises because it is a depressant that will eventually make the drinker sad or depressed. The National Institute of Health has reported that approximately 1/3 of individuals who suffer with depression also have a substance abuse problem. Research also reports that alcoholics have a higher rate of depression than that of the general public. Some people with dual-diagnosis addiction do not realize that the use of alcohol only exacerbates their mental issues, and vice versa. This becomes a vicious cycle of abuse and can be what makes a person an alcoholic.

Individuals with chronic pain may also try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, and they can also become addicted. But there are numerous other reasons why people drink. Consuming alcohol is portrayed as an attractive past time in movies, television and commercial advertising. This also contributes to what makes a person an alcoholic. Famous celebrities and athletes are shown drinking in ads that promote alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol is also portrayed as a part of sexual foreplay to get their partner in the mood and enhance pleasure. Drinking alcohol is socially and occupationally accepted as the norm, and even encouraged in some circles. There is also tremendous availability of all kinds of alcoholic beverages from light alcohol to hard liquor. You can purchase alcohol at gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants, and it is easily accessible to anyone who is of legal drinking age.

Adolescents are a vulnerable population where drinking alcohol can get out of control. How does alcohol addiction start among adolescents? There are many factors that contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction among the young. Some of these factors include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Deviant or rebellious behavior
  • Family problems, or substance abuse in the home
  • Abuse or neglect
  • A lack of self-esteem
  • A lack social skills
  • Poverty
  • Mental health problems
  • Physical problems

Alcohol affects the drinker both physically and mentally, and produces a variety of alcohol addiction symptoms which include:

  • Delayed reflexes, slurred speech, blackouts, memory loss, stumbling
  • Risky behavior, violent outbursts, depression, dementia, hostility, aggressive behavior
  • Loss of consciousness, confusion, disorientation, cognitive impairment, inability to perform tasks,
  • Liver disease, pancreatitis, cardiomyopathy, strokes, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, clots
  • Muscle weakness, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, incontinence

Addiction to alcohol usually occurs when drinking becomes a compulsive behavior pattern, regardless of the reasons why an individual drinks. Whether you have financial or legal problems, physical or mental disorders, family dysfunction, a suffering ego, or following a propagated myth that alcohol will improve your life in some way, you still run the risk of becoming addicted. This is what makes a person an alcoholic, and sadly only increases the problems that the alcoholic already faces. Instead of trying to self-medicate unresolved conflicts with alcohol, you should get counseling and behavioral therapy to learn how to eliminate or manage the problems you face.

How does alcohol addiction start and how can it end depends on you. There is an array of wide-ranging treatment options that are available at alcohol rehab centers to help you overcome alcohol addiction. But it is up to you to take that first step and seek the professional help you need.