Often, people associate addiction with hard drugs like meth, cocaine, and heroin. The reality is, alcohol addiction affects most people, and they frequently aren’t aware of their problem. Additionally, alcohol is a legal substance, so people often ignore their addiction. So, it’s important to explore what is an alcoholic, and what are the common signs of alcoholism? After all, the first step to recovery is the identification, acceptance, and admittance of your addiction.
What is an Alcoholic?
Many people are able to drink alcohol without complications. However, there are others who react differently to the substance. Unfortunately, when you have an addiction, you struggle with self-awareness. This is why many people with alcoholism justify and rationalize their drinking. Overall, they come up with various reasons to excuse their problematic, addictive behavior.
A common misconception is that to be an alcoholic, you must hit rock bottom first. Unfortunately, thinking like this is the reason so many people die from alcohol-related accidents.
Generally, the two symptoms someone with alcoholism faces are mental obsession and physical cravings. This means you won’t be able to stop drinking after your first alcoholic beverage. It also means an absurd amount of time is spent trying to obtain your next drink despite outstanding circumstances.
On a biological level, the brain regulates dopamine flow. Addiction affects the metaphorical gas and brakes of the brain. When your brain presses the gas, full throttle, it’s increasing dopamine levels by drinking. The brakes act as the prefrontal cortex, telling you to stop pressing the gas (drinking). Overall, new research shows us those with alcoholism have a prefrontal cortex that doesn’t tell them to stop. So, metaphorically speaking, they’re cognitively flooring it with absolutely no breaks!
Detox For Alcoholics
Over the course of an addiction, chemicals from alcohol cause the brain and body to adapt. At first, the body is unused to the presence of a substance, allowing for quick and potent highs. Over time, however, the body adjusts, and it takes more alcohol more often to achieve the same effects. As the body builds tolerance, the brain drives cravings, which in turn fuels the vicious cycle of addiction.
When a physical dependency is unfulfilled, the affected person undergoes withdrawal. Withdrawal is particularly severe for heavy users, and for users of alcohol, heroin, and benzos. This severity is dangerous not only to a person’s health, but also to their recovery. If a person undergoes withdrawal but has access to their substance of choice, the urge to relapse will be very strong. Withdrawal is the first, and perhaps the most difficult, roadblock to your recovery.
Since withdrawal is so severe, doctors strongly recommend against going through withdrawal alone, aka “cold turkey.” Instead, doctors recommend that patients seek detox treatment. At San Antonio Recovery Center, we offer detox programs for alcohol and heroin, for both men and women.
Detox starts with withdrawal, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. The benefit of detox is that it takes place in a secure, medically monitored environment. Some withdrawal symptoms, like seizures or delirium tremens (for alcoholics), can be fatal if left untreated. Medical professionals monitor detox patients 24/7 to keep them comfortable and safe as their body purges itself of alcohol.
Healing Through Treatment
Although there is no cure for addiction it’s possible for your alcohol addiction to go into remission. With alcohol addiction treatment, you’ll begin healing so you’ll no longer feel a need for alcohol. Above all, addiction treatment is about discovering what lead you to start using in the first place. The different triggers people often experience include:
- Mental illness (anxiety, depression, PTSD and other disorders)
- Family problems
- Work stress
- Anger issues
In treatment, you’ll be able to answer, “What is an alcoholic?” by learning to identify different triggers and discovering new coping methods. The treatment gives you the perfect opportunity to practice these techniques. By the time you leave treatment, they’ll be second nature.
San Antonio Recovery Center in San Antonio, Texas can guide you to successful sobriety and a happier life. Our facility offers: