The fact that alcohol is a widely used substance can mean that most of the population find it hard to understand how dangerous it can be. However, with more than nine million people in England alone regularly drinking more than the recommended daily allowance, the problem of alcohol abuse and addiction is one that needs to be addressed here in the UK. According to Alcohol Concern, there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom in 2014, and the sad fact is that all these deaths could have been avoided. Alcohol abuse is a major problem in our country, and without help, more people will continue to suffer from poor health and premature death. But just what is alcohol addiction like; especially when many individuals fail to realise when they have crossed the line from social drinking to problem drinking?
Just What Does Constitute Problem Drinking?
In January 2016, the UK Government issued revised guidelines on safe alcohol consumption for adults. The previous recommended weekly limit for men of twenty-one units of alcohol was replaced with fourteen to bring it in line with the recommended limit for women. There were also recommendations that this limit be spread over the course of the week, with a number of days left alcohol-free. Pregnant women were also advised to abstain from alcohol throughout their pregnancy. The problem is that most people do not fully comprehend what a unit of alcohol is and many do not understand what constitutes problem drinking or alcohol abuse.
Drinking more than the recommended guideline amounts is considered dangerous to health and has been linked to a variety of conditions, including some forms of cancer. Unfortunately, many people in the UK continue to drink heavily, with some even drinking their full weekly allowance or more in one drinking session.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Occur?
Most people can drink alcohol in moderation and enjoy the feeling it gives them, especially when enjoying the occasion with family members and friends. Social drinking is acceptable in modern society and alcohol is widely available, and even encouraged, in many settings. Nevertheless, for some, alcohol can become a destructive force in their lives. It can consume their very being and threaten to destroy their entire world. But how does it begin and what is alcohol addiction like?
Drinking a glass of wine at the weekend over a nice meal is something that many individuals enjoy. But when that glass of wine at the weekend becomes a glass of wine every night, you could end up being in dangerous territory. It is easy to progress from social drinking to problem drinking without even realising.
For some people, drinking quickly moves from being a conscious decision to something they do out of habit. For example, many will automatically head to the fridge for a bottle of wine when preparing dinner. They may not actually be making a decision to drink alcohol but are doing so out of habit. Some will find that once they start drinking, they no longer have any control over their ability to stop. They will open a bottle of wine with the intention of having one glass but, before they know it, they have finished the entire bottle.
Alcohol addiction usually begins with a tolerance to the effects. While in the early days the individual may have noticed the effects of alcohol after just one glass of wine, continued drinking could mean that the person does not notice these same effects until having had two or more glasses. This means he or she has built up a tolerance to alcohol and so it requires more of it for that individual to get the same pleasurable feelings as before. Continued regular alcohol consumption can lead to a physical dependence in some people. This will mean that they no longer have any control over their alcohol consumption and will crave it when not drinking.
Those who have an alcohol addiction will notice that they find it difficult to quit or even cut down on their consumption. They may try to cut back but are unable to and will continue to drink even when knowing that doing so has negative consequences.
Why Alcohol Addiction Must be Treated
There are so many ways that alcohol addiction can have a negative impact on the life of the affected individual. However, it affects far more than just the person with the addiction. In fact, it is estimated that five people are negatively affected for every one person with an addiction. In the case of alcoholism, family members and friends often bear the brunt.
Once alcohol addiction occurs, it begins to cause changes in the brain of the individual. He or she might start to lie to family and friends about their alcohol consumption, particularly if loved ones have expressed concerns. He or she may hide evidence of their drinking or become aggressive and angry if anyone suggests they are drinking too much.
Alcohol addiction is sometimes referred to as a family illness because of the impact it has on entire families. It can be devastating to live with someone who is affected by this destructive illness, and the emotional and psychological scars can be deep and lasting.
As well as the impact on relationships with loved ones, alcohol addiction can affect the health of the individual. It has been linked to conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and cancer. It is also directly linked to many mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and dementia. And in terms of poor health, it is one of the top three contributing factors to poor health and premature death in the United Kingdom.
It is for these reasons and more, that alcohol addiction is an illness that requires urgent treatment. Failure to address the issue will almost certainly mean it progresses to a point where permanent damage has already occurred. It will not go away if it is left untreated and the lives of many people will continue to be negative affected.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
It is important to realise that alcohol addiction is an illness but that help is available. Not knowing where to turn is often cited as a reason so many alcoholics fail to get the assistance required to recover. While some individuals do manage to quit alcohol by themselves, it is much more common for those affected to require professional help.
With the support of loved ones and help from professional counsellors and therapists, even the most severe alcohol addiction can be overcome. Here at Oasis Recovery Communities, we work hard to help those affected by alcohol addiction. We can help you to get better too with our high-quality service and team of dedicated and fully trained professionals. All you need to do is get in touch with us today and let us get you started on the road to recovery.