There is a major difference between social drinking and alcoholism, but sometimes the lines can get blurred. When you go out with your friends every weekend for cocktails or happy hours during the week, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. But, how do you know if you have a problem? And, how much alcohol does it really take to get addicted?
Understanding exactly what is going on when it comes to alcoholism can help you work to avoid the pitfalls associated with over-drinking – or it can help you jumpstart the journey towards recovery from a current addiction.
How Do You Become Addicted to Alcohol?
The first thing that is important to understand is exactly how a person becomes addicted to alcohol. The answer to this question put simply is – your brain. Without getting too deep into the scientific reasons behind alcoholism, it’s important to know the chemical reactions taking place behind the scenes and ultimately changing your behavior when you drink in excess.
Ethanol, the type of alcohol inside your drinks, is not addictive on its own. But when ethanol is introduced to the brain, it causes a unique chemical reaction that can cause addiction. Over time, your brain is tricked into thinking it needs the ethanol to feel normal. This is part of the science that causes people to succumb to alcohol addiction.
Also, some of the initial effects of alcohol can be enjoyable, which causes a release of dopamine in your brain. This reinforces this feeling of pleasure and encourages you to seek it out.
How Much Alcohol Does it Take to get Addicted?
Deep down, you probably already know there is no magic number of drinks that equates to alcoholism. Every person is different and every person’s brain reacts differently to the ethanol chemicals that are released when drinking. However, there are some tips you should follow for safe drinking habits.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it is recommended that women drink no more than seven drinks per week (a maximum of three in one day) and men drink no more than 14 total drinks per week (a maximum of four in one day).
The frequency and amount you drink on a regular basis is the best indicator you have for how quickly you could fall into the trap of depending on alcohol to function normally.
What are the Signs of Alcoholism?
If you know and understand the warning signs of alcoholism, you can be sure to take action and find the help you need to overcome it.
Below are some of the more common symptoms of alcohol abuse:
- Sensations of being hungover when not drinking
- Drinking alone or in secrecy
- Losing friends or changing your circle of friends
- Experiencing black-outs or short-term memory loss
- Finding excuses to drink more often
- Using alcohol as a way to deal with stress, anger, etc.
- Mood swings and irritability
No matter how minor you may think your drinking problem is, if you have any cause for concern, it should not be ignored. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s better to make positive changes now before things get worse.
Take the First Step Towards Sobriety
At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we can help people understand the nature of alcohol addiction and its underlying causes. Our program is specifically designed to equip you with the tools necessary to reduce the risk of relapse and regain control. Talk to one our admissions specialists today and learn how you can begin healing from addiction.