Am I Addicted to Alcohol?

The boarder line between alcohol abuse and alcoholism can be rather slight, like crossing the border between one U.S. state and another. The individual’s physical and psychological makeup will determine exactly where that border is. We will start with a medical explanation of addiction.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Alcohol dependence is characterized by impaired control over alcohol, preoccupation with use, continued use despite negative consequence, and sometimes evidence of physical dependence on alcohol. Various factors, such as your personality, your genetic makeup and peer pressure, affect your likelihood of becoming addicted to a drug or alcohol. In addition, some drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, more quickly produce a physical alcoholism than other drugs do for many people.

“Physical addiction appears to occur when repeated use of a drug (alcohol) alters reward pathways in your brain. The addicting drug causes physical changes to some nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Neurons use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate.

Neurons release neurotransmitters into the gaps (synapses) between nerve cells; neurotransmitters are received by receptors on other neurons and on their own cell bodies. The changes that occur in this communication process vary with the type of drug to which you’re addicted, though researchers have discovered that addictive drugs, such as cocaine and morphine, affect some areas of the brain in the same manner.

If further research confirms findings such as this, it would be possible to develop more effective medications to combat alcoholism to more than one drug.”

In simpler terms, alcoholism is when you lose control over the drug.

It controls you.

You crave the drug, and you center your thoughts on getting the drug, using alcohol and getting more of it.

It is no longer a choice that you can overcome with will power. As the drug takes control over a person’s life, they lose interest in life’s activities, personal relationships other than the ones with fellow users, and the person ignores any health, social or legal consequences.

If you believe you are addicted and asking this question, you are far better off than many addicts. We encourage you to seek help.

Ned Wicker is the Addictions Recovery Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center He author’s a website for alcoholism support:

alcoholism treatment
alcoholism intervention

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