Some drugs are extremely difficult to use responsibly. To use heroin and meth without becoming addicted is so rare that it should be considered miraculous when it happens. Even something like nicotine, which doesn’t take over a person’s life like a mood-altering drug does, is incredibly addictive. Alcohol, however, is responsibly used by millions of Americans. There are countless people who can enjoy a drink or two on occasion and never have a problem with alcohol. So what makes someone different when they abuse alcohol?
Alcohol use turns to abuse when a person begins to rely on it—this is often a road straight to addiction. One of the first signs of alcoholism is an increased tolerance to alcohol. This isn’t a badge of honor like some people claim. It’s not a good thing that a person can “hold their liquor” well. What is actually happening is that the brain is adapting to the presence of alcohol and thus more and more is required in order to feel the desired effect. Since one of the main facets of addiction is alteration of the brain, it’s obvious why this change of the brain is a grave early warning sign of alcohol addiction. Continuing to let alcohol alter the brain will increase tolerance even more and begin to make the user suffer withdrawal if they don’t drink.
Using alcohol as a stress reliever is often a dangerous path to tread. Someone who needs a drink after every day of work could be putting themselves in danger. While a drink a day might not an extremely large risk for addiction, they may begin to start using alcohol to relieve other stressors, eventually building an extensive, dangerous habit of drinking that could lead to addiction.
Once alcoholism develops, it’s almost impossible to stop on one’s own. Addiction changes the brain so that only by taking drugs (alcohol, in this case) can it feel pleasure. Also, alcohol’s withdrawal symptoms are some of the worst of any drug, so alcoholics are incentivized to drink at all times to make sure they don’t suffer withdrawal.
Treatment is the best way to beat alcoholism and learn to live sober again. The Ridge offers a 28-day minimum residential treatment program that merges 12-step programs and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Our recovery rate is unmatched, and our consistently excellent care has earned us official accreditation from the Joint Commission, placing The Ridge among the top alcohol addiction treatment centers in the nation.