Addiction 101

Alcohol Addiction

Understand Addiction and Achieve Recovery

The Road To Recovery Starts Here

Alcoholism is serious and powerful. Lifelong recovery is possible through education and treatment.

Alcohol abuse and addiction has the potential to profoundly damage health, relationships and lives. It impacts people of all ages and has far reaching consequences. Despite this, addicted persons can recover with professional support. Whether you struggle with alcohol or you care for someone who does, the following materials can help you understand the disease and determine appropriate next steps. Alcohol addiction is serious, but recovery is possible.

What happens when you stop drinking?

Depending on how much alcohol has been routinely consumed and for how long (months, years, decades), stopping drinking can yield short-term, unpleasant outcomes such as tremors, disturbed sleep, cravings, excessive sweating, feelings of depression and/or anxiety, restlessness, nausea, etc. The DTs (delirium tremens), a potentially deadly medical condition, can set in anywhere between 72 hours and one week after a dependent or heavy drinker has stopped drinking. Over the long-term — and as soon as 72 hours or a week for some people — stopping drinking can result in better sleep, weight loss, mental acuity, improved energy, healthier-looking skin, etc.

How many people die from alcohol?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 95,000 people in the United States die each year from alcohol-related causes.

Why is alcohol considered a drug?

Alcohol, like all drugs, is a chemical substance that brings about a change in a person's mental or physical state. In small doses, alcohol acts as a stimulant improving confidence, increasing extroversion and talkativeness, elevating blood pressure and heart rate, improving mood, etc. Alcohol in larger doses slows down neural activity and brain functioning, resulting in cognitive impairment, slurred speech, slowed reaction time, uneven or reduced motor skills, distorted perception and judgment, sleepiness, and more.

What causes alcoholism?

Alcohol use disorder, what was once commonly known as alcoholism, occurs when an individual develops a physical dependence on alcohol and engages in compulsive alcohol-seeking behaviors. It is not known what causes alcohol use disorder, but it results in changes in the brain and body that can result in consistent cravings and eventually, withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is not consumed.

How to safely detox from alcohol?

For anyone dependent on alcohol, safely detoxing from alcohol should only be done under a doctor's supervision. For individuals who are not in danger of a medical emergency or who do not have access to medical supervision, slowly tapering down the number of drinks consumed each day over a period of weeks or months can ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings during detox.

Why alcohol is bad?

Drinking too much alcohol, whether in a single sitting (binge drinking) or over time, can have negative effects on your physical and mental health, relationships, job prospects, and more. Long-term alcohol use is associated with an elevated risk of developing chronic diseases and other negative health outcomes that include high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, heart disease, and various forms of cancer.

What is blacking out?

Blacking out is a period of memory loss due to excessive alcohol consumption in a short amount of time. During a blackout, a person can often still move around, talk, and otherwise seem fully conscious and aware of themselves and their surroundings, but they will remember nothing of the blackout later. Blacking out is most commonly associated with binge drinking.

Why can't I stop drinking?

Quitting drinking, even for someone who wants to, can be very difficult because alcohol use disorder (what used to be called alcoholism) is a disease that needs treatment. The symptoms of the disease — even in its early stages — include cravings, dependence, increased tolerance, loss of inhibitions, and changes in brain chemistry. All of these realities contribute to why it can be difficult for people to quit drinking.

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