The consumption of alcohol is so heavily normalized and ingrained into our society that alcohol addiction accounts for the most cases of substance abuse in the UK and the world over.
In spite of its high addiction liability and the staggering rate of alcohol-related fatal accidents and criminal activity, excessive alcohol consumption is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.
Thousands of people in the UK suffer from alcohol addiction, with over 80% of alcoholics pursuing treatment for their addiction. And out of all the types of substance addictions, alcohol addiction is one of the most deadly.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
There is a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms that indicate alcohol addiction. It’s important to remember however that an alcoholic will sometimes go to great lengths to hide their addiction, even from themselves. An addiction to alcohol can manifest in the following physical and behavioural symptoms.
- Alcohol Cravings
- Lapses in memory
- Symptoms of illness, like Cirrhosis or Ketoacidosis
Behavioural symptoms can vary, but an alcoholic will tend to appear intoxicated more regularly, and act irritable or angry when not intoxicated. Their addiction robs them of the ability to say no to alcohol, and the drive to drink leads them to neglect responsibilities and relationships.
Often withdrawal symptoms or severe intoxication can lead to violent and aggressive behaviour.
An alcoholic will lose interest in other activities that don’t involve drinking, and beyond becoming anxious or depressed, develop dishonest and secretive habits to hide their addiction.
Difference between alcohol addiction and alcohol dependency
The definition between alcohol addiction and alcohol dependency can vary, and often the words are used interchangeably. It’s generally understood however that addiction and dependency are interlinked, especially in the case of alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse affects both the mind and body, making it a pervasive and even dangerous form of substance abuse. Dependency refers to the physical dependence on a substance and manifests in symptoms of withdrawal and tolerance around that substance. In this case, the body of an alcoholic becomes so accustomed to a quantity of alcohol in its system that it requires it to function normally. Abstinence from alcohol will result in painful withdrawal symptoms, and in severe cases, these symptoms can even be considered dangerous.
Alcohol addiction is typically a mental and behavioural phenomenon, thanks to the biochemical changes in the brain from continued alcohol abuse.
Alcohol becomes the sufferer’s priority and focus, and they lose interest in other interests that bring them joy. The compulsion to drink takes control, influencing all their decisions, and the iron grip of addiction will push all responsibilities, relationships, and considerations to the back seat.
Because of the physical dependency on alcohol, it can be dangerous in severe cases. Alcoholics will experience distressing and unpleasant symptoms when abstaining from alcohol, and these often serious symptoms should not be dealt with alone. We advise never to attempt alcohol withdrawal alone; with the help of trained professionals to oversee patients in the controlled environment of a rehab, detoxification can be monitored and controlled.
Detoxification is a necessary step to save sufferers from alcohol dependence, which is what makes sudden alcohol withdrawal as dangerous and painful as it is. Under the careful eye of rehabilitation professionals and medical staff, the patient’s system can be cleansed of alcohol and any accompanying substances to return the body to normalcy.
It’s only after the system is cleansed that we can start to tackle the psychologically damaging effects of alcohol addiction.
Rehabilitation centres will combine detoxification with therapy in a holistic treatment plan. With a support group and addiction specialists, sufferers have the best opportunity to maintain sobriety and avoid relapse on their recovery journey. A good alcohol addiction treatment program will give recovering alcoholics the tools they need to overcome addiction continuously and overcome the hurdles and triggers that made them turn to alcohol in the first place.
Rehabs for alcoholics
There are numerous addiction treatment centres and residential rehabilitation (rehab) facilities across the UK, giving every addict the best opportunity to find the treatment that works best for them. Alcohol rehabilitation can be done with in-patient or out-patient care if the patient finds it difficult to maintain a work schedule while in rehab, but in-patient care is renowned to reap better results, as the treatment takes place in a controlled environment far from environments associated with alcohol abuse.
To take one of the biggest steps on the road to recovery, you can browse our comprehensive list of alcohol rehabilitation centres in the UK to find the ideal treatment plan for you. Rehab Helper is committed to helping sufferers find their sustainable recovery journey, giving them the best chance at achieving sober living. If you, or a loved one, is struggling with alcohol abuse, feel free to get in touch with our addiction specialists for help, advice, and support.