“Excessive” or “problematic” consumption does not mean “addiction”. Indeed, dependence is to be distinguished from severe misuse. It is not linked to a rate of consumption. It becomes reality when one can no longer refrain from not consuming alcohol. 1.5 to 2 million people are alcohol-dependent in USA and women account for about a quarter.
Where does alcohol addiction begin?
Addiction is the loss of control over consumption. Alcohol dependence is neuro-psychological and behavioral, it must be distinguished from the toxicity of alcohol on the organs. Indeed, it is quite possible to have physical complications from alcohol and not be dependent. Conversely, a dependent person does not necessarily have physical complications from alcohol toxicity. We must not confuse dependence and excessive consumption. Half of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity is unrelated to addiction. For example, car accidents are most of the time caused by people who are not dependent, but those who have high occasional consumption.
There are many signs of an addiction to alcohol, including being unable to stop the number of glasses you had planned to drink, losing interest in important things in your life because of the ‘alcohol, having to increase the dose of alcohol to obtain the well-being initially provided by consumption or to feel uneasy because of the lack of alcohol. There are discreet warning signs such as waiting more or less impatiently for the time of the first drink (anticipatory thoughts), feeling irritable if you have not consumed, etc.
What are the causes ?
Addiction arises from an individual’s encounter with a product – alcohol – at some point in their life.
Alcohol is not a product that is highly addictive. This is why many people can consume a little alcohol without abusing it and quit easily. Addiction is the conjunction of a personal history, an experience, an environment, genetic factors, habits of consumption alcohol. Regular and excessive consumption alone is not enough to become dependent, even if it is a risk factor for progression to dependence.
Who is at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol?
For young people, the best is to abstain until the end of the maturation phase of the brain (25 years) because of the cerebral plasticity and therefore the modification of the cerebral circuits under the effect of ethanol ( the scientific name of the alcohol). The earlier the body is exposed in life, the higher the risk of becoming addicted in adulthood.
The experts of the Green Hill Recovery Center provide round-the-clock support not only to patients, but also to their loved ones, they are working on the problems of codependency. Addiction treatment and rehabilitation is a quality proven over the years and hundreds of cured patients.
Regular and heavy exposure can also lead to addiction because it changes the balance of chemical transmitters (such as dopamine) in the “reward / reinforcement system” located in the brain. Dopaminergic neurons (sensitive to dopamine) located in a part of the brain called the midbrain are fundamental in the activation of our reward system, which naturally manages our desires, our pleasures and our emotions but also plays a central role in the development. place phenomena of drug dependence and therefore alcohol. There is no equality between individuals with regard to dependence. A propensity to “hold on to alcohol” encourages drinking more. It is a risk factor for addiction, such as never being drunk.
Remarks and alerts from family and professional circles, legal complications with the loss of driving license points or the appearance / discovery of a somatic disease linked to alcohol, etc. make it possible to identify excessive consumption or addiction to alcohol and give the sick person the opportunity to change their behavior.
Screening can also be systematic, by the occupational physician or any nursing staff who questions the person about their alcohol consumption. They sometimes use the RPIB technique for “early spotting-brief intervention” as well as risk assessment tools.
A new tool for assessing the risks associated with alcohol consumption is available. the AUDIT questionnaire (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) is a simple 10-question test developed by the World Health Organization to determine if a person is at risk for alcohol addiction.