Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances, as it is highly available and affordable. Some regard it as being the most dangerous substance in the world because of these reasons. According to National Library of Medicine, over 17 million Americans (a population twice as large as New York City), are battling alcoholism on a daily basis making this one of the most widely abused substances across the country.
There can be many reasons that a person chooses to turn to alcohol, as each individual drinker is going to be motivated by different experiences and triggers. Some of these reasons might include the following:
Addiction is generally defined as being 50% environmental and 50% genetic. For example, children with alcoholic parents are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol, as they tend to have the same genetic breakdowns as their parents. Alcoholism can also develop as a result of a negative environment, including absent parents and lack of structure. Many times, those parents who battle with alcoholism are unable to provide a stable environment for their children, thus increasing the potential for the child to abuse alcohol as an adult.
The word “trauma” can pertain to many different areas of pain and grief. Any situation that shakes the very core of a person can be considered trauma, and most typically these types of events are unexpected and possibly even harmful. For instance, someone who was a victim of sexual abuse is likely to harbor negative thoughts surrounding their experience that can later drive them to find a way to cope. People who have lost loved ones unexpectedly, experienced a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado or have been in an accident have had a traumatic experience. The feeling fear, grief or loss can be so overwhelming that the individual looks for a way to numb the pain.
Stress often leaves people looking for relief. One of the biggest stressors for the average person is inability to have a well-paying job. The United States Department of Labor reports that nearly 8% of the American population is unemployed. This number does not account for the millions of other people who are currently underemployed. Not since the Great Depression in the 1930′s have this many people been more stressed about finances. Worrying over money is one of the many stressors that can lead a person to try find a way to cope with their troubles.
People are going to be triggered an will try to find some form of release for their problems. Unfortunately many of these people turn to alcohol. Their intent might be to just indulge for one night, but one night turns into two nights and the pattern repeats more frequently. This type of behavior can lead to the slow development of an alcohol addiction.
Chemical reactions in the brain can be a reason that alcohol is so addictive. Because of its make-up, alcohol can quickly turn into a need rather than just a want. The brain responds to alcohol by releasing dopamine and endorphins.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that when released, creates feelings of reward in a user. So, when alcohol is consumed, the neurotransmitters in the brain give permission for dopamine to be released, telling the user that when they drink alcohol, that this is the feeling they will get. Rather than the actual substance being what the user craves, it becomes more about the feelings that come with their drinking.
Endorphins, like dopamine, are chemicals in the brain that rather than create feelings of reward, create feelings of pleasure by blocking pain. If a person is experiencing either physical or emotional pain, they can use alcohol to make it go away. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary effect, as alcoholism will soon create more pain in a user that will only be able to be treated through therapy.
The desire to keep using alcohol comes directly from the needs of the user. This means that people who are generally happy and are capable of managing stress in a healthy manner are going to be less likely to use. Those who have more difficulty in these areas might become more susceptible to using alcohol for the wrong reasons. Watching someone struggle with alcoholism can be extremely painful, and knowing how to offer help and support can make a world of difference.
While it might seem challenging, loved ones of an alcoholic can begin to help them work towards recovery by following keeping a few key factors in mind:
Alcoholism is a destructive disease affecting the alcoholic as well as their families. La Ventana Treatment Programs specializes in alcohol addiction treatment. Licensed and trained professionals work on the underlying issues of the addiction, not just treating the symptoms. Call us at 800-560-8518 to learn more about our programs and begin on a path to addiction recovery.
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