The "active" ingredient in drinking alcohol is ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Ethanol, despite it's legality, is considered to be a sedative-hypnotic drug (also know as a "downer") that affects the brain like other sedative-hypnotic drugs, like Valium and other barbiturates would do.
Prolonged consumption of ethanol is known to cause physical dependence in many individuals. Physical dependence can include the following symptoms:
- Confusion, hypervigilance and disorientation (which happens under excessive consumption as well)
- High body temperature, increased blood pressure and pulse and respiration
- Increased restlessness, anxiety and insomnia
- Hallucinations and psychotic behavior
dependence is dangerous, it is not considered to
be an "addiction". There are similarities between
physical dependence and addiction, but there are
significant differences. "Alcohol Addiction" is a complex
behavioral syndrome where:
- An individual's use of alcohol is done to extremes
- Alcohol use is rationalized or minimized
- Alcohol use results in personality changes and
- Alcohol use results in negative consequences, whether financial, personal, health or other.
On the surface,
these may sound like alcohol dependence, but in
reality, only a small percentage of alcohol overusers
The big difference between physical dependence and addiction, is that gradual reduction of dosage can "cure" dependence before harm is done. Those addicted tend to disregard medical advice and increase their use, and consume the substance far in excess of normal doses, and will often indulge at times or in places that non-addicts would not consider.
Addicts will give a substance harmful importance and will behave rigidly and repetitively with respect to their use of the substance, despite harm being done to himself and others.
How do I know if I have
an alcohol addiction?
If you continue
to use and abuse alcohol, to the detriment of relationships,
your health, your work and finances, you may be
addicted to alcohol. Some people are predisposed
to alcohol dependence and addiction by their genes
- they have more receptors for alcohol in their
brains than others.
Can addiction be treated?
Yes, alcohol addiction
can be treated. Alcohol addiction, like most other
addictions, is a chronic, relapsing condition. The
goal with most alcohol addictions is complete cessation
of the addictive behavior - to stop drinking.
What treatments are available?
include individual counseling, anonymous group sessions,
medication or a combination of the above. If you
or your loved ones are concerned about your dependence
on alcohol, visit Alcoholics
Anonymous to find a support group near you or
talk with your doctor about a therapy or treatment
that might work for you.
How can I quit abusing
when you have an alcohol addiction can be very difficult.
It is for this reason that many alcoholics support
groups exist around the world. While kicking an
alcohol addiction is tough, it isn't impossible
and the first step is admitting your alcohol addiction
to yourself and those who you have affected. Once
you have done that, you will have put yourself in
the right frame of mind to seek treatment.