The idea of alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder conjures many images in people’s minds. However, problematic drinking can range in severity from occasionally drinking in excess (binge drinking) to alcohol dependence and alcoholism. There are many varying levels of addiction severity in between. An occasional drink does not evolve into a substance use disorder that requires comprehensive addiction for most people. On the other hand, others have a significantly more challenging relationship with alcohol and could benefit from pursuing alcohol addiction recovery at Casa Serena.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Yes, alcohol is addictive. Alcohol alters how the brain perceives reward and releases dopamine. When the reward system is changed, it can be challenging for people to “feel” joy or pleasure from typical activities such as socializing, parenting, or social experiences. Eventually, alcohol becomes the primary way for the user to feel happiness and joy. Long-term alcohol use floods the reward system with dopamine leading the brain to reduce the amount of dopamine produced. It also decreases the number of dopamine receptors and increases the number of opioid receptors.
These changes result in physical and psychological alcohol dependence. It also leads to an increasing need for greater alcohol consumption to overcome tolerance and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of an Alcohol Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) provides a list of eleven criteria to help mental health and medical professionals accurately diagnose the presence and severity of alcohol addiction (alcohol use disorder). One does not need to present with all eleven symptoms to have an alcohol addiction. Generally, two or three signs identify a mild alcohol use disorder; four or five are considered moderate, and six or more are considered severe. As previously mentioned, alcoholism does not develop overnight; however, someone is generally diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder when drinking interferes with work, school, family, and other responsibilities, and they continue to consume (or crave) alcohol despite known harmful consequences.
The eleven factors listed in the DSM-5 address the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol addiction. The ability to recognize the symptoms of alcohol addiction can help ensure you or a loved one gets the support and guidance needed to overcome addiction. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
- Cognitive changes such as blackouts or difficulties with short-term memory
- Intense and overwhelming urges to drink
- Continuing to drink regardless of known physical harm or challenges with family and personal relationships
- Sudden changes in mood or frequent mood swings
- Choosing alcohol over essential responsibilities and obligations
- Increasing isolation and distancing from friends and family
- Changes in appearance or lack of concern about hygiene
- Drinking alone or making excuses for drinking
How to Achieve Alcohol Addiction Recovery
No matter the severity of your addiction, the best way to achieve alcohol addiction recovery is to seek comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment care. The journey to defeating alcohol addiction should be made with medical professionals’ support and guidance in a treatment facility with staff experienced in medical detox and alcohol addiction disorders. Our women-focused treatment program can provide you with essential guidance and support throughout your entire treatment process. After rehab ends, we will help ensure your aftercare plan is in place with access to support groups and counselors to help you during early and long-term recovery.
Choosing to pursue alcohol addiction recovery, although difficult, is only the first step on your journey to recovery. At Casa Serena, we will work with you to design a unique and individualized alcohol addiction treatment plan that addresses and focuses on meeting your unique treatment needs and goals. Using evidence-based traditional therapies and holistic treatment models, our women-only alcohol rehab provides addiction treatment designed to ensure you have the best opportunity for attaining and maintaining sobriety. If you are ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, contact us at Casa Serena today.