When a person's drinking does from an enjoyable social activity to a compulsive need to consume alcohol, they are in the throes of an alcohol addiction. An alcoholic may be drinking hard liquor, beer, or wine. A person living with alcoholism has cravings for alcohol and is not able to control their drinking.
Becoming an alcoholic is something that occurs over time. When someone consumes alcohol, it changes the way their brain functions. The person feels less inhibited, and the alcohol raises the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. This change in the dopamine levels accounts for the pleasure someone gets from drinking alcohol. With excessive and/or long-term use, changes in the alcohol addict's brain chemistry cause him or her to experience cravings for alcohol.
Alcohol addiction affects people in many ways. Alcohol is a factor in approximately 50 percent of accidents, suicides, and violent crimes. Alcohol addiction also causes a number of health problems, including heart and liver diseases, cancer, and brain damage.
Causes of Alcohol Addiction
A number of factors can cause alcohol addiction, including depression and schizophrenia. The person may start using alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Some people start drinking alcohol to help them feel more comfortable in social situations, and others use it as a way to deal with stress.
Family history plays a part in whether a person develops an alcohol addiction as well. If there is a family history of alcohol abuse with one of your parents, you are more likely to turn to alcohol as your drug of choice. The people you hang out with also influence whether you are at higher risk of developing a problem with alcohol as well. Peer pressure cannot be discounted when considering why some people develop an alcohol addiction.