Alcohol Addiction

glass of alcohol in a dark room

What is alcohol addiction?

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Alcohol addiction is a substance use disorder that involves the habitual use and abuse of alcohol to the extent that the alcohol alters how the user’s brain experiences gratification. Ultimately, alcohol changes the brain function of the addict, and this dysfunction compromises the ability to make proper judgments.

From the American Society of Addiction Medicine, we have a definition of addiction as a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. Those who suffer from alcohol addiction typically engage in repetitive, uncontrollable patterns of consumption that progress in frequency and intensity, often resulting in destructive consequences to themselves and those around them.

man pouring alcohol into a glass because he is addicted

What causes alcohol addiction?

Addictions are ultimately a result of brain function. Alcohol consumption triggers the brain to release a chemical called dopamine as a part of its internal reward system. Naturally, this positive feeling generates a desire to repeat the behavior that resulted in the pleasurable experience. As alcohol consumption increases, the body develops a tolerance, which leads to a need for even more alcohol to generate the same level of reward.

While the primary source of addicts’ problems lies in the brain, other elements, such as genetics and environmental factors, also contribute toward drug addiction. Studies also show that alcohol addiction often strongly correlates with other mental health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Trauma

Who suffers from alcohol addiction?

While anyone can be affected by alcohol addiction, there are certain risk factors that correlate to an increased likelihood of addiction. These include:

  • Genetics – People with a family member who has been an alcohol addict are more likely to become addicted themselves. Studies have shown that genetics represent about half of the total risk for alcohol addiction.
  • Early consumption – People who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 have a significantly higher likelihood of developing a dependence on alcohol as they age.
  • Frequency of consumption – Frequent drinking and binge drinking increase the chances of addiction as well.
  • Gender – Men are nearly twice as likely to develop an addiction to alcohol as women.
  • Mental health disorders – Co-existing mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or depression can lead to an addiction to alcohol.

Though these factors give us indicators for potential problems, virtually anyone can develop an alcohol addiction. Startlingly, approximately 14.5 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older have an alcohol addiction. It is easy to see that alcohol addiction presents a significant problem and that we need to be educated and aware about its dangers. We encourage you to get help today before any problems grow worse and require a more lengthy recovery process.


What are the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?

Every individual case of addiction will present differently, but there are many common effects that we can observe in alcohol addiction. Some of the physical signs we see include:

  • Significant weight variations
  • Increased injuries from falls or hazardous behavior
  • Diminished personal hygiene habits
  • Regular intoxication and effects (decreased coordination, slurred speech patterns, etc.)
  • Increased focus on the “next drink”

In addition to these personal manifestations, alcohol also produces disruptive psychological effects as well. These consequences include:

  • Heightened triggers for irritation and anger
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Increased signs of anxiety
  • Hallucinations, especially during withdrawal
  • Decreased reliability and trustworthiness

Certainly not comprehensive, these brief lists can help identify someone struggling through an alcohol addiction. Clearly, these signs affect not only the addict, but anyone in a close orbit of the addict. That includes family, friends, coworkers, etc. At Bridgepoint, our goal is to restore not only the individual, but also the damaged relationships that result from alcohol addiction.

What treatments are effective for alcohol addiction?

It is important to remember that every addiction is a different scenario. At Bridgepoint, we invest time into discerning the true cause of any addiction or mental health disorder so that we can devise the most appropriate course of treatment. As we formulate a blueprint to treat alcohol addiction, we acknowledge that there are some broad strategies that we can incorporate into each individual treatment plan. Some of these options include:

  • Detoxification – Under the watchful care of a licensed professional, we often begin with a detoxification process to address alcohol addiction.
  • Therapy – Our trained physicians provide support and education through individual or group/family therapy to cope with addictions and break the bonds that prevent your healthy lifestyle.
  • Medications – Some prescriptions can be effective in treating alcohol addiction.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – More commonly associated with behavioral addiction treatment, we can sometimes re-train the brain to aid in a recovery from alcohol addiction.


How do I get help with my alcohol addiction?

Whether you are dealing with an alcohol addiction yourself, or if you have a loved one bound by alcohol, we are here to help. We are aware of the pain and suffering that addictions provoke – both for the addict and for friends and family.

Contact us today to receive some encouragement and initial steps. We will need to schedule a visit with one of our staff members, who will work with you to identify the proper strategy for your recovery and healing. Don’t wait – the prompting you are feeling now reflects the urgency and the desire to get help. We will work with you to build on these feelings to restore a healthy balance in your life.