Understanding alcohol addiction
Alcohol is a legal beverage consumed in many forms, most commonly wine, beer, and spirits. In low doses, alcohol can lower anxiety and inhibitions, promoting a relaxed state. It acts as a depressant in larger quantities and can cause loss of motor function, slurred speech, and short-term memory loss.
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Is alcohol really addictive?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) encompasses various harmful drinking behaviours, including alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol addiction (alcoholism). Warning signs of alcohol use disorder are related to patterns of drinking, the continuance of alcohol consumption despite negative consequences and the presence of withdrawal symptoms.
The consumption of an increasing volume of alcohol, particularly if more alcohol is consumed than was intended, or if the individual finds it difficult or impossible to stop drinking, may indicate a problem. Often those with alcohol addiction develop a tolerance to alcohol, requiring more and more to have the same effects.
The cause of alcohol addiction can be different for everyone, though research suggests these as the main factors involved:
- A family history of alcoholism
- Parental drinking habits
- Exposure to trauma in childhood
- Drinking alcohol in adolescence
- Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and antisocial personality disorder