What is an alcoholic?

 caucasian blond wasted and depressed alcoholic woman drinking scotch whiskey glass looking desperate isolated on white in alcohol abuse and addiction and housewife alcoholism problem

It’s very common in today’s day and age for people to consume alcohol regularly, especially since it’s a part of many social settings. Often, people who drink on a regular basis aren’t sure when they have crossed the line from casual or moderate drinking into becoming an alcoholic. Drinking problems can arise very easily so it is important to be able to identify them early.

What Is An Alcoholic?

An alcoholic is known as someone who drinks alcohol beyond his or her ability to control it and is unable to stop consuming alcohol voluntarily. Most often this is coupled with being habitually intoxicated, daily drinking, and drinking larger quantities of alcohol than most. In general, an alcoholic is someone who suffers from alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous defines this as “a physical compulsion, coupled with a mental obsession to consume alcohol,” in which cravings for alcohol are always catered to, even at times when they should not be.

What Causes Alcoholism?

A clear cause of alcoholism has not yet been identified. Alcohol dependency has been identified as something that happens when a person drinks so much or so often that it changes the chemical makeup of their brain.

Alcoholism is classified as an addiction and with that, there is no single cause.

When consuming alcohol, dopamine levels are raised just as high as they would with other drugs. The brain categorizes this activity in the same way that a gratifying reward would be.

Over time, this is something people begin to crave and, therefore, depending on many factors, such as genes, environmental factors, psychological factors or stress levels, a person can be more susceptible to becoming an alcoholic.

How Binge Drinking And Alcohol Abuse Can Lead To Alcoholism

NIAAA defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.” A person partaking in these patterns of drinking on a regular basis is at a much higher risk for developing alcoholism.

blood alcohol concentration (BAC) chart

Alcohol abuse causes the body and brain to begin to get used to these levels of alcohol in the system, thus creating more frequent chemical imbalances, which typically result in alcohol dependency.

Signs That Someone Is An Alcoholic

The signs of an alcoholic are something everyone should be aware of. Symptoms of an alcoholic include:

  • Drinking alone or in secret.
  • Blacking out.
  • Inability to limit intake of alcohol.
  • Extreme cravings for alcohol.
  • The onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms without drinking.

Although they are able to operate in their daily lives with little to no trouble despite their drinking habits, a high-functioning alcoholism is also something to watch for. A high-functioning alcoholic will justify their drinking because it is not negatively affecting their lives and they don’t feel they are unmanageable for those reasons.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, help is available. Inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as support groups, can help you turn your life around. Contact us today for more information on how to get started on a path to recovery.

References:

National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Drinking Levels Defined,http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

Alcoholics Anonymous, About Alcoholism, AA Great Britain,http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/Newcomers/About-Alcoholism

 

What Is An Alcoholic?
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What Is An Alcoholic? was last modified: July 14th, 2017 by The Recovery Village