Baystate Recovery Center Blog

Why Is Alcohol So Addictive?

Why Is Alcohol So Addictive?

People with an alcohol addiction often believe that they can control the urge to drink more without any help. However, you’ll almost certainly need help from a dedicated interventionist organization like the Baystate Recovery Center in Boston, MA to beat alcohol addiction. Knowing why alcohol is so addictive can help you grasp why professional intervention is so important.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

Drinking alcohol affects pathways in the brain and releases endorphins, giving a pleasurable feeling that can be addictive. Furthermore, you’ll find it difficult to judge situations clearly and control your urge to drink more after consuming alcohol, increasing the likelihood of binge drinking.

Over time, heavy drinkers build a tolerance to alcohol, which means that they need to drink more to experience the buzz. While many people misframe this tolerance as being able to ‘hold their liquor’, it’s often a sign that the person drinks too much, too regularly. This can cause a vicious and addictive cycle, where the person has to drink more and more to get the same effects.

Social Factors in Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol features in many of life’s major events and rituals, from a glass of champagne to wet a new baby’s head to a binge at New Year. Unfortunately, this can lead to a habitual association between socializing and drinking, to the point where some people drink every time they go out with others. It’s not hard to see how this could be a slippery slope towards alcohol addiction.

Some people also find it easier to relax and converse confidently with others after a drink or two because alcohol lowers inhibitions and can temporarily reduce feelings of social anxiety. It can be tempting to start using alcohol as a way to self-medicate mental health or social issues, and many people end up believing that they need alcohol as a confidence boost.

Alcohol Addiction and Withdrawal

People who drink heavily often experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking. These symptoms are acutely unpleasant and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Unstable mood
  • Sleep problems
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Headache

In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can cause serious symptoms such as seizures or hallucinations. If a person with alcohol addiction tries to give up drinking without support, the side effects can be so debilitating that they are unable to continue, reinforcing the idea that they need alcohol to function. Fear of withdrawal can cause addiction to worsen and encourage further drinking to avoid symptoms.

Therefore, it’s crucial to have support from experts in alcohol addiction and withdrawal. Treatments to minimize symptoms and therapy to help address the root causes and behavior patterns of problem drinking can increase the likelihood of achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Starting the Road to Recovery

While gaining insight into how alcohol addiction develops can be helpful for recovery or supporting a loved one, you’ll need the help of experts to turn away from alcohol for good. The Baystate Recovery Center in Boston, MA offers a comprehensive range of outpatient services to help you or someone you love overcome alcohol addiction.

The center’s expert interventionists deliver effective group and individual therapy sessions using proven methodologies grounded in rigorous clinical research. Treatment techniques include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and the team draws on many years of therapeutic experience to help you overcome obstacles to recovery.

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