This article will help to explain how alcohol can affect a person’s mental health. We will look at how heavy drinking can put people at an increased risk of developing an addiction, the signs of a potential addiction-forming, how alcohol use disorders can lead to destructive consequences, the increased risk of heart problems and other conditions, and where people can seek treatment for their addiction.
Why Is Alcohol So Addictive?
A key point to consider when exploring why alcohol is so addictive is how it affects the brain. Binge drinking and general alcohol use have negative consequences on the brain in terms of how the drug can change the way the mind works and how it has a big impact on the brain’s reward centre.
This part of the brain is connected with various pleasurable behaviours that people experience, such as sex, eating, socialising, and exercising. It rewards the person by releasing dopamine and endorphins into the brain). When a person develops an alcohol addiction, their brain will begin to prioritise the need for alcohol instead of more important needs such as food, sleep, and other rewarding behaviours.
Alcohol substance abuse leads to the release of additional dopamine into the brain, which elicits feelings of enjoyment, and this can cause alcohol addiction. The user will often seek to recreate these feelings through their frequent alcohol use, often ignoring how their excessive drinking is causing problems for them physically and mentally.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?
Alcohol is metabolised (meaning it is broken down within the body and slowly removed) at a continual rate that varies for each drink, but on average, each drink will take at least an hour for the body to metabolise.
When answering the question of how long alcohol stays within the system, it’s important to consider that various factors will greatly impact how long the process takes. In particular, factors such as genetics, a person’s age, weight, and overall health can all play a role in how long their body will take to handle alcohol misuse.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
There are several signs of alcohol addiction that users and friends of users should look out for if they’re concerned that a person has become alcohol dependent. More obvious signs might be frequent binge drinking and general poor drinking habits (meaning an inability to control one’s alcohol consumption, frequently getting drunk etc.)
Moderate alcohol use can often slowly evolve into alcohol dependency without people realising it. It might begin with someone consuming alcohol a few nights a week (for instance, having a few drinks after work), but it could escalate into a heavy drinking session that occurs regularly if the user starts to use drinking as a coping mechanism.
If someone begins drinking heavily on a frequent basis, this is a major sign that they are developing or have developed an alcohol dependency. It’s important to remember that everyone’s tolerance to alcohol varies, so drinking a lot of alcohol might not always be a telltale sign. Therefore, it’s essential to examine the behaviour involved with drinking.
People should ask themselves or ponder these questions in relation to their friends who might be developing an alcohol addiction:
- Is the person simply having a few drinks every once in a while?
- Are they drinking every night?
- Are family members and social events being ignored in favour of drinking?
- Is their general behaviour becoming a destructive force for both themselves and the others around them?
Further information can be found here.
Staging An Intervention
If a person’s alcohol problems are identified quickly, their friends and family could attempt to stage an early intervention to communicate their concerns.
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?
The length of time that it takes for a person to detox from alcohol can vary considerably. It will largely depend on how dependent on alcohol the individual is, how long they have been drinking alcohol, genetic factors, how prone to addiction they are, and other factors such as their age, weight, and overall health.
Moreover, people react differently to withdrawal symptoms they can experience when they stop drinking alcohol. What might be difficult for one individual might not be as intense for another.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms of continued alcohol abuse and alcoholism may include:
- Lack of appetite
- Hand tremors (also known as ‘the shakes’)
- Frequent headaches
- A higher pulse
It can impact people’s mental health and cause them to experience depression, and in some cases, it can lead to delirium tremens (also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium), which is a withdrawal effect that involves the user experiencing feelings of disorientation, restlessness, higher blood pressure and an increased heart rate, and respiratory problems.
The Timeline For Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
There is a general timeline for alcohol withdrawal symptoms that begins with some of the more minor symptoms being felt after just 6 hours of stopping drinking. These symptoms might be felt more strongly by heavy alcohol users who have stronger addictions to alcohol.
Between 12-24 hours after having stopped drinking, users may experience symptoms such as hallucinations.
After 24-48 hours, users should begin to find that their symptoms are beginning to lessen in severity.
The final 48-72 hour window is perhaps the hardest for some users, as they may experience delirium tremens, and when this occurs, this is the most likely time they will begin drinking again in an attempt to avoid experiencing these withdrawal symptoms.
Tips For Achieving Recovery From Alcohol Abuse
Before considering long-term treatment options for recovering from alcohol abuse and alcoholism, there are various tips and tricks people can try to help them refrain from alcohol abuse which will help them begin to take back control of their lives.
Triggers For Alcohol Use Disorder
A good place to start is to understand what triggers a person has in relation to alcohol use. Triggers are things that cause people to want to do a specific thing. For example, triggers could be emotions. So an alcohol user might come home after a stressful day and feel compelled to drink alcohol to alleviate their feelings of stress.
Other triggers might include a family history of alcohol abuse; therefore, the person needs to avoid behaviours or environments that recreate the memories they might have attached to this.
Elsewhere, binge alcohol users might find themselves heavily influenced by others who also engage in binge drinking in places such as bars. The triggers here would be a combination of the people drinking around the user and the environmental factors at play (i.e. being in a bar might make the person feel like they want to drink). Therefore, an alcohol user should attempt to identify these triggers and try to avoid them or work around them in some shape or form.
Peer Pressure and Toxic Relationships
If alcohol users find themselves surrounded by people pressuring them into drinking, it will become increasingly difficult to stop drinking, and therefore, the best thing to do in these situations is to distance oneself from relationships that they deem toxic or harmful to their recovery process.
It’s essential to be surrounded by a positive support network that won’t punish the user for their decision to stop drinking and will instead celebrate their progress with them.
Alcohol Treatment For Addiction
Getting help for alcohol addiction is not difficult; luckily, many different treatment options are available to help people overcome their alcohol misuse.
Medical and non-medical detoxification programmes help people overcome their withdrawal symptoms. Clients are monitored closely by medical health professionals who offer support and medication when necessary.
Residential Treatment Programmes
Alcohol rehab can take place in a variety of different hospitals and treatment centres. Clients can choose to undergo their addiction treatment program entirely within a luxury alcohol rehab centre if they wish, or they can opt to divide their treatment plan into a mixture of inpatient and outpatient care.
For instance, some clients might choose to undergo their detox in a residential treatment centre but then carry out the rest of their treatment via outpatient care at a clinic or private medical centre.
Therapy, Counselling, and Other Programmes
There are many different options available for people seeking treatment to address the psychological side of their addiction, as well as helping them to address mental health conditions and mental disorders they might also be facing.
For instance, people can join self-help groups and group therapies such as alcoholics anonymous, participate in a therapy treatment program or regular counselling sessions, and participate in 12-step programmes that help them gradually overcome their addiction.
These programmes help people understand why they began drinking in the first place. They can help them build confidence and coping mechanisms that will enable them to beat their addiction and avoid a relapse in the future.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcohol addiction, reach out to us at The Revoke Programme to learn about the various ways we can help people struggling with alcohol dependence. Help is just a phone call away.