Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Laura Smart - Author for Rehab Clinics Group

Laura Smart - Last Updated: April 21, 2023

Last reviewed: March 29, 2022 by Dr Alexander Lapa. All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

What is alcohol addiction?Alcohol is a legal, easily available product and normalised substance here in the UK. While such factors reduce the threat of alcohol, especially in comparison to harder substances, alcoholism is a wide-spanning condition, impacting millions across the world.

Sadly, the innocent image of alcohol makes it an easy coping strategy for many individuals. Others see its low toxicity branding as the best option to unwind and to fuel social situations.

Binge drinking has in fact been normalised to such a significant degree. Alcohol, to some, may also be viewed as an escape, carrying few side effects or consequences.

However, once initial use turns into regular consumption, mirroring alcohol abuse, the slippery slope to an alcohol addiction will be visible, which for many is an everyday controlling condition.

To onlookers, those who abuse alcohol are perceived as weak, uncontrollable and destructive. However, under the surface, causations of alcohol addiction are regularly linked to trauma, high stress, mental health issues, suffering and environmental influences, in fact, making it an involuntary illness.

Those who do struggle are more than likely looking for a way out, a way to suppress emotions, and a way to cope through life, highlighting the supportive traits of alcohol.

Yet, we must remember that alcohol is toxic and that healthier coping strategies are promoted, in subsequent the opportunity to open up and instead recover from personal issues.

At Rehab Clinics Group, we’re here offering alcohol addiction treatment, to help those with any degree of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

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What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism stands as a physical and psychological illness, where alcohol consumption has turned from normal, to highly excessive.

Those with an alcohol addiction vocalise how exposure and consumption of alcohol rules their lives, making it impossible to go a day without a drink.

Usually starting off innocently, alcohol will be used for pleasure, as a coping strategy or as a form of respite.

Through such actions, many individuals can experience alcohol abuse, which is where an alcohol dependency will be present, without the psychological addictive characteristics, present in alcoholism.

For someone with an alcohol dependency, a degree of control is present, where consumers may be irregular, where withdrawal symptoms may be experienced, and where a sense of normality can still be encountered.

Yet, if enabled, abuse can merge into the addiction cycle, where both the body and brain become accustomed to alcohol and its impactive traits, making it very difficult to stop drinking.

At this moment, it can be challenging to lead a normal life, as for an addict, alcohol is known to consume every responsibility, role, thought, action, behaviour, motion and need.

The sad reality is, is that alcoholism is seen as a lifestyle choice. Yet it’s in fact a developed brain condition, usually stemming from suffering, resulting in even further struggles of withdrawal symptoms, side effects and the downfalls of alcohol addiction.

Impacts of Alcoholism on the body

Causations of alcohol abuse

Alcoholism will usually develop through a stage-by-stage process. As we’ve shared above, it will start with normal consumption, will develop to alcohol abuse down to the positive effects it offers, will advance to dependence, and will result in alcohol addiction.

With this in mind, it can be a long process from the start of the development process, making it difficult to fully understand the severity of alcohol consumption.

The process will begin with the causation itself, which will trigger the desire for alcohol consumption. Standing as innocent, many causations surround environments, stresses, social pressures, ill health, change, trauma and genetics.

Causations of alcohol abuse

All can cause a vulnerability that highlights the desires of alcohol consumption, ultimately shining a light on the positive attributes that alcohol can bring in the moment.

As those attributes continue to benefit, users will continue to access alcohol, with the attempt to push beyond tolerances.

This continuity is the addiction development process, all starting off with a trigger, which has intensified into a habit.

Alcohol addiction is very complex, where both internal and external factors can cause susceptibility to alcoholism. This is important to know, as the choice to consume alcohol in fact isn’t there for someone with an addiction.


Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction

Signs and symptoms of an alcohol addiction do embody those of other habitual behaviours. For example, the symptoms of alcoholism are also similar to those of drug addiction.

Anxiety, depression, mood swings, headaches, vomiting, trembling, increased heart rate, fluctuating weight, and bloodshot eyes are a few to consider.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

As such symptoms can be similar, it’s instead important to consider the changes that users experience in the behaviour, associated with alcohol consumption.

  • Are you craving alcohol every day?
  • Are you experiencing physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, like the above?
  • Are your days controlled by alcohol?
  • Have your relationships, your roles, your routine and your decisions been impacted by alcohol exposure?
  • Do you drink as a coping strategy?
  • Do you blackout from drinking?

    If the above resonates with you or describe the behaviours of those around you, this is an indication that abuse is turning into an addiction.

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    The Brain and Alcohol

    Alcohol effects on the brain

    Excessive alcohol consumption can be extremely dangerous for the entire body. Alcoholics do usually experience risks of organ failure, damage to their kidneys and liver, weakened immune systems, and overall reduced quality of health.

    Yet the greatest worry surrounds the effects that alcohol can have on the brain through the consumption pattern of addiction.

    Mental health issues are highly associated with such behaviour, risking cognitive impairment and behavioural issues.

    The presence of alcohol can induce memory problems, can speed up the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and can also place significant pressure on general functionality.

    This is why concern is present, as an innocently perceived substance can cause irreversible health problems.


    Treatment for alcohol addiction

    To overcome alcoholism, treatment will need to be sourced and completed. While many individuals believe that stopping consumption will allow for recovery, greater effort is required when treating alcohol addiction.

    At Rehab Clinics Group, through our group of leading alcohol rehab clinics, you can look to experience a personal, private and safe programme of treatment to help you withdraw, help stabilise your mind, and help to build a foundation for relapse prevention.

    A wide range of treatments are available to assist with your recovery journey, helping to secure sobriety as a lifestyle choice.

    Alcohol addiction can be extremely invasive, controlling and can change your life, even if at the beginning you experience minimal consequences.

    Consider this when consuming alcohol, with a strong possibility to overcome alcoholism here with our support.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • How Would I Know If I'm Addicted To Alcohol?

      The recommended weekly allowance of alcohol is 14 units, if you're regularly exceeding this figure then this is a big sign that you may have a problem. Here a some of the telltale signs that you're dealing with an addiction; Constant cravings, drinking alone, breakdown in relationships, no control over when you drink, put drinking first over more important priorities, mood swings. These examples are just a few of the more common signs that you're suffering from addiction if you aren't experiencing any of the above problems but still feel like you're suffering from alcohol addiction then get in touch with our team to discuss it further.
    • How Does An Addiction To Alcohol Usually Start?

      There is no definitive answer to this question, addiction can be a slow build-up of events and choices that accumulate to form addiction symptoms or the process can be rapid with regular binge drinking speeding up its effects on the body and mind. The process of addiction is usually broken down into three phases, the first phase is alcohol abuse, second is problem drinking and the third and last phase is a dependency to alcohol.
    • Is Rehab The Best Option For To Treat Alcohol Addiction?

      Rehabilitation is the most commonly used method to treat addictions and is widely known as the most effective treatment option for alcohol addiction.
    • Are There Any Medications For Treating Alcohol Addiction?

      Medications can be used to alleviate any withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced during detoxification from alcohol. Here is a list of some of the medications we offer at our treatment centres:Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, Lofexidine

    Laura Smart - Author - Last updated: April 21, 2023

    Laura is a qualified counsellor and behavioural therapist specialising in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy), ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), ICT (Inner Child Therapy), MI (Motivational Interviewing), Hypnosis and Mindfulness practice. She has experience working with individuals suffering from conditions such as problem behaviours, internet and social media addictions, depression, anxiety, anger management and trauma.

    Dr Alexander Lapa - Psychiatrist & Clinical Reviewer for Rehab Clinics Group

    Dr Alexander Lapa - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: March 29, 2022

    MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified

    Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
    He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.

    Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)

    Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)

    Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
    – Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
    – Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
    – Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
    – Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
    – Aesthetic Practice and Procedures