What Makes Alcohol So Addictive?
Drinking alcohol stimulates dopamine and endorphins in the brain. When these two brain chemicals are released, they’re responsible for producing feelings of pleasure. They also act as a natural painkiller.
This is why substance abuse in the form of alcohol is so addictive. Since brain chemistry can be different for everyone, others may succumb to alcohol addiction sooner than others.
Alcohol abuse can affect people differently depending on factors such as mental health history, trauma, or if the individual drank at an early age.
Developing An Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Because alcohol is addictive, it’s possible to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some people are more susceptible to developing an AUD if they have:
- a history of mental health issues
- experienced trauma
- a genetic predisposition
- drank at an early age
Others may partake in binge drinking or excessive alcohol consumption in order to feel the desired pain killing effects of alcohol.
Side Effects Of Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol causes intoxication and can affect your decision-making abilities. After a night of drinking, you may experience the following effects of alcohol:
- loss of balance and motor skills
- poor judgment
- reduced reaction time
- slurred speech
These effects can be made worse depending on a variety of factors. For instance, heavy drinkers who consume a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time may feel the effects more quickly. Those abusing drugs and alcohol will likely experience more side effects.
Since drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in the brain, one’s mental health is always of concern when it comes to any type of drug abuse.
Those who suffer from alcohol dependence may put alcohol above everything else in their lives. This can lead to family problems, legal troubles, or issues at school.
Alcohol addiction can cause the person suffering to unintentionally harm themself or others, including alcohol-related accidents like:
- motorized vehicle accidents
- fallouts with family members
Some additional health concerns of problem drinking include:
- liver disease/cirrhosis
- fetal alcohol syndrome in babies
- breast cancer
- cancers of the throat, head, and neck
Those with alcohol problems have many different treatment options available. Not only is there Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step support groups, but professional alcohol rehab centers as well.
Those with a severe substance use disorder or a history of heavy drinking may require a short-term inpatient detox program to address alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Medication-assisted treatment is also an option, which includes both medication and behavioral therapy. You may receive naltrexone, a drug that blocks opioid receptors in the brain. Naltrexone is used to treat alcohol cravings.
To learn more about inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centers that can help you or a loved one stop drinking for good, please contact us today.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol Basics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol & Substance Misuse
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Binge Drinking
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Data on Excessive Drinking
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol Facts & Statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Alcohol
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Alcohol Use: Facts & Resources
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