A very common misconception is that alcoholism is a matter of free will. “If he wanted to stop badly enough, he would stop,” people might think. Or, “If he had a good enough reason to quit he would.” The reality is, alcoholism is far from a matter of choice. Alcoholics do not drink because they want to – they drink because their bodies and their minds are telling them they have to.
Addiction is a diagnosable brain disease, one characterized by a specific set of symptoms. It is also a chronic, relapsing disease, meaning that – although recovery is possible – a recovered alcoholic must keep up on maintenance. If they fail to continue their personal program of recovery, they are liable to relapse. The symptoms of alcoholism include (but are not limited to): frequent blackouts, persistent cravings, changes in mood, increased agitation, steadily increasing tolerance, self-destructive behavior, and a distancing from friends and family members. While it is true that alcoholics don’t “love to drink”, it is also true that they feel consistently compelled to do so.
Why Do Alcoholics Drink?
There is no simple answer when it comes to the question, “Why do alcoholics drink?” It really varies on a person-to-person basis. Some people are predisposed to addiction genetically – some suffer from underlying mental health disorders and have an inclination towards self-medication. Others simply fall into a bad habit after experimenting with highly addictive substances, like methamphetamine or prescription painkillers. Addiction is far from a one-size-fits-all disease, and alcoholics begin drinking for a wide variety of reasons. Alcoholics continue to drink, however, because they become physically addicted to alcohol.
Why do some people become alcoholics while others can safely drink in moderation? As previously mentioned, it could be due to a genetic predisposition, or underlying, untreated mental health issues. Research suggests that alcoholics have difficulty learning the consequences of drinking too much. Essentially, if someone finds drinking more rewarding than devastating – for example, if a series of fun evenings out trumps a series of hangovers – then the individual will continue to drink. While this may make sense in theory, alcoholism runs much deeper than that. The true alcoholic will be physically unable to stop drinking, even when the consequences become too great to bear.
Am I an Alcoholic?
Because drinking is so prevalent in American culture, and because so many people drink excessively (binge drinking is extremely common in certain social circles), it can be difficult to diagnose yourself. You may be an alcoholic if you have tried to cut back or quit and found yourself unable, or if you regularly tell yourself that you’ll only have one or two drinks, and find that you can’t stop once you’ve started. You may be an alcoholic if your drinking has been causing issues at work or at school, or if your friends or family members have expressed concern about your drinking habits.
Finally, if your drinking has caused health problems, minor or major, and you haven’t quit entirely – you probably have a problem. If you’re still unsure, please feel free to call us at Garden State Treatment Center, and we will discuss your symptoms with you. Our team of medical professionals and addiction specialists are trained to understand and diagnose substance dependency issues of all kinds.
Treatment for Alcohol Dependency
If you do find that you struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction, there is help available – maintaining sobriety is completely possible, no matter how long or how much you’ve been drinking. There are several initial steps when it comes to alcoholism recovery: medically monitored detox, inpatient rehab, and sober living. It is crucial that all of these steps are taken in order for long-term sobriety to be achieved. To learn more, please feel free to contact us today – we look forward to speaking with you soon.