In today’s society, alcohol is widely accepted; it is something that people enjoy over dinner or when they are having a party. And pubs and clubs around the world make their money selling alcohol. So it is hardly surprising that a large number of people do not associate alcohol with something that can be highly addictive and a substance that can destroy lives.
Those with no experience of alcohol addiction are often unable to comprehend how alcohol can be so destructive. For them, alcohol is something to be enjoyed, and drinking is a pleasurable activity that may occasionally do no more harm than cause a bad hangover or slight embarrassment from something that was said or done while intoxicated.
However, for a large number of individuals around the world, alcohol is a substance that they have no control over. For them, it has become something they cannot live without. These people will continue to drink alcohol even when they know that doing so will cause harmful consequences in their lives.
Alcoholism: Habit or Addiction?
It’s hard to tell when alcohol use has crossed the line from social or moderate drinking to addiction. Nevertheless, the best way to tell the difference between a habit and addiction is to think about how much control one has over his or her drinking. If you are one such individual but feel as though you have some control over when and how much you drink, despite being concerned, it is likely that it is still a habit. Nevertheless, if you cannot control the amount you drink or the regularity of your drinking, then it is almost certain that you have an addiction.
The Stages of Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism is like any other addiction in that it is a progressive illness. It does not occur overnight, and the illness tends to follow a particular pattern:
- Curiosity – The first stage of addiction is curiosity. This is when a person decides to drink alcohol for the first time. Assuming that he or she likes the drink or the effects of the alcohol, it will be something that they will want to try again.
- Desire – After curiosity comes desire. If a person has a good experience with alcohol the first time he or she tries it, he or she will think about trying it again. The person is not too bothered about when they will try it again, but they will think about it and will make the decision to drink again when the opportunity arises.
- Want – The more a person desires alcohol, the more he or she will actively seek out opportunities to drink. At this point, the individual has moved on to the ‘want’ stage. He or she is now behaving in a way that will allow him or her to drink more often. The person is now planning ahead when it comes to drink.
- Habit – Once an individual begins ‘wanting’ alcohol more often, this person will have reached the ‘habit’ stage. At this point, he or she is drinking without actually giving much thought to it. It becomes something done without thinking, and it could be that he or she automatically reaches for a bottle of wine every time they sit down to dinner.
- Need – When a person has become dependent on alcohol, they are at the ‘need’ stage. He or she now believes that they cannot do without alcohol. Maybe the person believes that he or she cannot function properly until they have had a drink or they have to have a glass of wine before meeting friends as this is the only way of feeling confident.
- Addiction – After need comes addiction. At this point, the person is physically dependent on alcohol and cannot control the urge to drink. Even if he or she wants to quit, it may be impossible at this stage. Once the urge to drink takes over, there is nothing he or she can do and every time they try to stop or cut down, they will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Do You Have a Problem?
If you are worried about your drinking habits, then you need to look at the amount of alcohol you consume as well as how regularly you do it. How do you feel when you are not drinking? If you are concerned that alcohol is becoming a problem in your life, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you worried that you drink too much?
- Are you worried that you drink too regularly?
- Have you tried to cut down on the amount you drink but found it too difficult?
- Do you often drink more than you planned to?
- Have you started drinking more alcohol to experience the same effects?
- Do you feel jittery or shaky when you are not drinking?
- Have you missed out on activities or responsibilities because you were drinking or recovering from drinking?
- Do you continue to drink even though you know doing so will have a negative impact on your life?
- Are you suffering from mental or physical health problems related to alcohol?
If you have answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may need help. Addiction Helper can provide you with a full assessment of your situation that will either confirm your fears or put your mind at rest.
Many people with alcohol problems fail to get help because they do not fit with the perception others have of the classic alcoholic. They believe that in order to be an alcoholic they would have to be drinking all day, every day. They may also be under the impression that all alcoholics are homeless, unemployed and estranged from their families.
We want you to know that this is not the case. Many alcoholics are just like everybody else in that they have families that love them, jobs, homes, and nice things. Nevertheless, they are struggling with an illness that could put all of that at risk if they do not get the help they need.
Is this something you can relate to? If so, contact Addiction Helper today. Our job is to make sure that as many people with alcoholism as possible get the help they need to overcome their illness and get their lives back on track.